E-Cig Defects Lead to Explosions and Injuries

The rise of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) and vaporizers has contributed to a healthier society by reducing smoking, but these products have proven to be dangerous in recent years.  Burns, small fires, explosions, and personal injuries are just some of the issues reported with these vaporizing devices.

E-cigs utilize a heated coil that turns the liquid into a mixture of glycerin, nicotine, and flavoring.  Lithium-ion batteries are used as power sources for the vast majority of these e-cigs.  The idea is that the vaping will give a smoker a similar feel of smoking, while being a healthier option.  These products were introduced in 2007 but have just recently become more popular in the last few years.  By filing product liability lawsuits, some victims hope to prevent future injuries by holding manufacturers accountable.

Statistics Behind the Dangerous Products

In 2014, the U.S. Fire Administration reviewed reports following 25 electronic cigarette explosions.  80% of these explosions occurred while the vaporizer battery was charging.  10 of these incidents concluded with injuries, while 22 of these started fires and spread beyond the e-cigarette itself.

According to an article on Vapingdaily.com, there were around 195 cases of e-cigarette explosions officially reported since 2016.  Of the cases that had been concluded, 60 took place while the device was in use, 48 occurred during charging, 18 happened during storage, transport, or unclear circumstances, and 50 were caused by spare batteries.

Cause of These Explosions

As mentioned previously, lithium-ion battery failures have led to a large percentage of these explosions.  Vape pens in particular can involve dangerous batteries, as they have been reported to propel across the room like bullets during explosions.

Some defective products don’t completely self-implode.  Charging a lithium-ion battery can in some cases just lead to small fires.  In most of these cases, the issues were the batteries themselves, not faulty chargers.

Not using the proper battery is a problem that has also led to malfunctions.  Batteries for other devices tend to fit in the e-cigs and vape pens, but the voltage is too high – which ignite fires and explosions.

Other causes of explosions are still being investigated, as some explosions have occurred mid-use or while stored in pockets.  One case in particular is causing confusion, as the device exploded while the consumer was opening the packaging.  This case occurred in 2012 and the e-cig model has since been discontinued.

Lawsuits Filed Following Destructive Malfunctions

Maxwell De La Fuente, of San Diego, California, filed a lawsuit following his vaping device exploding in his pants pocket.  De Le Fuente suffered deep second degree burns to his right thigh and was hospitalized.  A federal report compared the device to a “flaming rocket”.

Another explosion involving burns was reported in California.  Eric Howell of Glendale filed a lawsuit after a vaping device, which he purchased in Burbank, exploded in his pants pocket.  He suffered second and third degree chemical burns on his left leg and genitals.

Other California lawsuits have involved burns, explosions, and a variety of injuries- including one case that led to a finger amputation.

Beyond just one state, lawsuits have been filed around the country.  One woman won big when she was awarded nearly two million dollars in compensation for the severe second degree burns she sustained after her e-cig unexpectedly exploded in her lap while plugged into a car charger.

A 57-year old Vietnam War veteran in Florida was disfigured after his device exploded in his face.  Some of his teeth were knocked out and injuries were sustained on his tongue.

Likely one of the most significant cases in recent years though was that of a man who was killed in St. Petersburg, Florida following an e-cig explosion.  38-year-old Tallmadge D’Elia was found dead in his home earlier this year.  According to an article on CNN, officials found him with a wound to his top lip area and areas of burns to his body.  His death was ruled as accidental and the cause of death was identified as a projectile wound to the head.

Tips to Avoid E-Cig Explosions 

The following tips can help consumers avoid injury from explosions and fires caused by these products:

  • Use quality vaping accessories
  • Avoid batteries that are not recommended by the device manufacturer
  • Check batteries while they are charging
  • Unplug batteries once they are done charging
  • Avoid moving around with e-cig batteries in your pocket
  • Store e-cig batteries in safe locations
  • Dispose of damaged batteries
  • Ensure that the device is turned off when not in use, especially when in pockets 

Product Liability Attorneys Can Help

These types of scenarios are considered product liability claims.  If the e-cig was constructed wrong due to flaws in production, this would be considered a “defectively manufactured” product liability situation.  If the flaws lie within the design of the device, this would be considered a “defectively designed” product liability claim.  If proper warnings were not displayed on packaging, such as not mentioning that other batteries should not be used to power the device, then this would be a “failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions” product liability situation.  To learn more about products liability, click here.

More than one in every ten adults has tried an e-cigarette one time or more in their life, according to the CDC.  Because of this, a large volume of the population is in danger of experiencing these device malfunctions.  If injuries are sustained as a result of these defects, an experienced products liability attorney can aid in recovering the compensation victims deserve.  To speak to a Biesterveld & Crook, LLC attorney about your product liability case, call or request a free consultation.


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