Owners of record-holding Farmington Hills felines sue over pets' deaths
Farmington Hills — The owners of two Guinness World Records-holding cats are suing a massage chair maker, alleging one of its products caused a fire that destroyed their home and killed their pets.
William and Lauren Powers are seeking more than $1 million in damages, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
They claim an electric massage chair made by Fremont, Calif.-based American Crocodile International Group Inc. was defective, malfunctioned and caused a Nov. 12, 2017, fire at their Farmington Hills home.
Company officials couldn't be immediately reached for comment.
The Powerses were given the chair by someone who had purchased it in 2009, according to the complaint. The previous owner of the chair had used it without incident for eight years before giving it to William Powers.
The couple said in the lawsuit that the fire erupted in the massage chair, consumed their home and everything in it, including about $300,000 in cryptocurrency, which cannot be recovered.
Their three cats, including two that held Guinness World Records in 2018 — Arcturus Aldebaran and Cygnus Regulus — died in the fire.
Arcturus, an F2B Savannah cat, was the tallest living domestic cat at 19.05 inches, according to Guinness. Cygnus, a silver Maine Coon cat, had the longest tail of any living domestic feline at 17.58 inches. At the time of the fire, both cats were about 2 years old.
The Powerses' third cat, Sirius Altair, was a marble Bengal rescue cat and they had him for almost a decade. All of the cats were named after stars in the sky.
The three cats were missing after the fire. William Powers said the couple opened some windows and doors as they fled their burning house, hoping the three cats would escape.
He later offered a $25,000 bitcoin reward for each cat who was safely returned. Live traps were also set up in the area.
More than a month after the blaze, the Powerses said they found both Arcturus and Cygnus dead in a room in the home's basement. They said the cats succumbed to smoke inhalation. Sirius was still missing.
"These cats were like children to the plaintiffs," the lawsuit said. "Their loss was and is a source of immense grief to the plaintiffs."
It also said William Powers, who was at home when the fire gutted the house, suffered a facial injury in the fire and experienced symptoms of psychosis after it.
Both William and Lauren Powers were unable to work while they tried to recover from the trauma and lost substantial wages and income, it said. "These events also put tremendous stress on the plaintiffs' marriage."