Update: Ex-Navy Seal Suffers Burns, Laceration in Vape Explosion
May 15, 2017 – A U.S. Navy veteran from Dallas, Texas, who claims he was severely burned when his e-cigarette exploded in his pocket has filed a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer, retailer, and distributor of the device. Plaintiff Matthew Bonestele claims that his LG Chem HG2 18650 battery exploded in his right pants pocket, causing third degree burns to his right leg and puncturing his right thigh.
What’s the problem?
In recent years, electronic cigarettes — also known as e-cigarettes, e-cigs, vaporizers or vapes — have grown hugely in popularity. These devices are aggressively marketed as a “safer alternative” to traditional smoking. However, in addition to being linked to serious health risks including bronchitis obliterans or “popcorn lung,” e-cigarettes have also been found to contain dangerous design defects that can cause explosions and fires.
FEMA Report on Exploding Vapes
In 2014, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published a report documenting 25 cases of e-cigs exploding. Injuries sustained in these incidents included:
- Burns and chemical burns
- Puncture wounds from shrapnel
- Amputations, most often loss of fingers
- Sensory impairment
According to FEMA, approximately 80% of vape explosions occurred during charging, while the device was plugged into a computer USB port, wall outlet or car charger. In addition to the risk of personal injury associated with these incidents, they also caused fires resulting in significant property loss and vehicle damage.
Updated Review Finds E-Cig Explosions More Frequent, Often Unreported
As shocking as the FEMA report is, it is out of date and based only on incidents reported in the media. On April 3, 2016, ECigOne.com published a comprehensive list of electronic cigarette explosions and related events which included:
- 45 explosions which occurred during use.
- 73 explosions during charging.
- 28 explosions during transport, storage or unknown circumstances.
- 22 events involved spare batteries for removable battery mods.
- 101 incidents resulted in personal injury or death.
- 67 events resulted in no injuries to people, but may have resulted in animal death or severe property damage.
Even though these statistics indicate a rapid increase in e-cig explosions since the FEMA report, in all likelihood they still only represent a small fraction of such events. A large number of explosions are never reported because media outlets may not consider the incidents newsworthy, and because consumers might not report them out of embarrassment or because no serious damage was caused.
E-Cigarette Battery Explosions
Instead of burning tobacco, vape pens use a small lithium-ion battery to heat an aerosol cartridge to release a vapor. Problems can occur when these batteries are damaged or subjected to extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. A short circuit can cause the battery to overheat, catch fire and even explode. These problems tend to occur most often in cheaply made pen vapes, according to Wired.
Are Lawsuits Being Filed?
In November 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported on lawsuits filed by 3 California men against the makers, wholesale distributors and retailers of electronic cigarettes. The complaints allege that e-cig batteries exploded, causing severe injuries including second degree burns, shattered teeth and in one case, the loss of a finger. The plaintiffs are:
- Daniel Califf – Former LA Galaxy soccer player who suffered second degree burns on his neck, ear and face, as well as facial fractures after a vape he was using blew up in February.
- Gregory Phillips, Jr. – A Bakersfield resident, suffered second-degree burns to his left leg after an electronic cigarette exploded in his pocket in September. His burns were so severe that he required treatment with surgical skin grafts.
- Vicente Garza – Also a resident of Bakersfield, Garza suffered injuries to his mouth and tongue, as well as shattered his teeth in October in an explosion while vaping; the explosion shattered his bathroom mirror and he lost half his left index finger in the incident.
Plaintiffs are seeking damages and hoping to raise awareness about the lack of regulation in the making of e-cigarettes and vapes.
Navy Bans E-Cigarettes Over Exploding Battery Concerns
April 18, 2017 – The U.S. Navy is banning e-cigarettes and portable vaporizers from its aircraft, ships and submarines after receiving multiple reports of the devices’ batteries exploding, catching fire and injuring sailors. Malfunctioning e-cigs have forced at least one aircraft to land, started fires on ships and left multiple sailors with severe burns. Vape injuries have occurred when the devices were being used, charged or replaced, or when they came into contact with other metal objects.
FDA to Investigate Exploding E-Cigarettes
January 4, 2017 – The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is planning to hold a 2-day public meeting in April to discuss the dangers of exploding batteries in e-cigarettes and vapes. The Associated Press reported in December that the agency had identified at least 66 e-cigarette explosions between 2015 and early 2016.
Vape Explosion Injures Girl at Universal Orlando
October 4, 2016 – A 14-year-old girl was injured after an e-cigarette exploded inside a ride at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, according to CNN. Police say the girl was on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride with her family when a vape inside the pocket of a nearby teenager malfunctioned and shot a ball of flame in the air. She suffered mild to moderate burns on her face, arm and leg, and was taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital to be treated.
Exploding E-Cigarette Burns Orange County Man
June 6, 2016 – A 23-year-old man suffered severe burns and lacerations to his face after an e-cigarette he was smoking exploded in Tustin, CA., according to NBC Los Angeles. Orange County Fire Authority Captain Larry Kurtz said the incident occurred on the 14000 block of Carfax Avenue about 10:30 p.m. Friday.
“The e-cigarette exploded and the victim suffered burns and lacerations to his face,” Kurtz said. “These devices are more dangerous than people realize. Here you have a device that combines high heat and a battery in close proximity and sometimes these accidents happen.”
German Man’s Teeth Blown Out by Exploding E-Cigarette
May 31, 2016 – A 20-year-old man from Germany suffered serious facial injuries and lost a number of teeth earlier this year when an electronic cigarette exploded in his mouth, according to the Daily Mail U.K. The man was smoking the device at a vape shop in Cologne, Germany, and had put it in his mouth to inhale when the incident occurred. He suffered severe injuries to his face — including wounds to his mouth — with the explosion itself knocking out several teeth.
Do I Have an E-Cigarette Explosion Lawsuit?
The Class Action Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in e-cig and vape lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new exploding e-cigarette cases in all 50 states.
Free Confidential Case Evaluation: Again, if you were severely burned by an exploding vape or e-cigarette, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and we can help.