In March 2017, a New Jersey man sued a retailer that sells vaping products after an e-cigarette exploded and allegedly shot flames down his pants leaving him physically as well as emotionally scarred. The man had the device in his pocket when it exploded while he was at work, enveloping his leg in flames.
The lawsuit was filed with the Superior Court of New Jersey in Middlesex County against a New Jersey e-cigarette and e-liquids supplier. The plaintiff alleges that his e-cigarette battery exploded in his pocket without any warning.
Personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP are actively reviewing potential lawsuits regarding product liability. Attorneys at the firm are available to answer questions for individuals seeking legal information.
E-Cigarettes – Healthier Alternative?
There are an estimated 2.5 million e-cigarette smokers who have turned to “vaping” as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes. However, there have been numerous reports of e-cigarettes exploding in user’s pockets, hands, mouths, resulting in severe burn injuries and damaged teeth and eyes.
E-cigarettes are devices that have batteries to heat and vaporize a flavored liquid that commonly contains nicotine and other ingredients. The device creates an aerosol that is inhaled into the lungs.
E-cigarettes use a common lithium-ion battery called the 18650, slightly larger than an AA battery. These batteries are frequently used for power tools and laptops, and are manufactured by established companies such as Duracell, as well as unfamiliar brands made in China. Loose batteries may short or discharge if terminals make contact with change, keys, or other metallic objects.
Since August of 2009, e-cigarette explosions have occurred an estimated 196 times, and evermore frequently. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reported that most e-cigarette explosions were caused by an overload of voltage while the lithium-ion battery was charging. In some of the cases, the overload happened when plugged into a computer USB port, or a car outlet.
Effects of E-cigarette Explosions
The plaintiff “quickly realized that his leg was covered in black residue and his skin was severely charred,” according to the lawsuit. “The explosion resulted in extensive burns on his lower extremity.”
According to the petition, the plaintiff’s alleged e-cigarette explosion was “not a novel occurrence,” which referenced additional consumer injuries. One was a New Jersey man who allegedly suffered second degree burns to his arm and face due to an e-cigarette explosion and another incident involving a woman from Camden County.
The woman allegedly suffered disastrous injuries to her mouth and teeth, “almost losing her right eye” when an e-cigarette exploded in her face, according to the complaint. In yet another incident, a man from southern New Jersey needed a skin graft after experiencing extensive burns to his leg and foot, according to the lawsuit.
A man from Kalamazoo said, “Took a couple of puffs off of it, had it between my fingers, looked down and my hand was on fire… luckily, I did not have it in my mouth because it would have put my eye out,” reported safetyresearch.net.
A man in Oklahoma suffered injuries due to an e-cigarette exploding in his mouth during use. “Warnings about these products are few and far between. In our experience, even retailers aren’t advising customers about the dangers of e-cigarettes,” according to his lawsuit.
Between 2009 and August 2014, according to a 2014 report issued by the United States Fire Administration, 25 separate incidents of explosion and fire involving e-cigarettes were reported in the U.S. media.
According to the same report, e-cigarettes with lithium-ion batteries can behave like “flaming rockets” when a battery fails.
“Complaints of injury caused by e-cigarettes continue to rise as the devices become more popular,” states the complaint.
“These products continue to be placed into the stream of commerce despite being untested and unsafe. E-cigarettes will continue to cause these types of injures unless and until those placing them in the stream of commerce are held accountable,” according to the lawsuit.
In April 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a proposed rule to claim jurisdiction over e-cigarettes. In October 2015, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued an interim rule prohibiting e-cigarettes in checked baggage and prohibiting charging them while onboard an aircraft, recognizing the devices as an “emerging safety risk,” reports safetyresearch.net.
Have You Been Injured by an Exploding E-Cigarette?
If you or someone you know has sustained injury associated with an e-cigarette, you may be eligible for valuable compensation. Parker Waichman personal injury law firm offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. We urge you to contact us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).