A rash of recent electronic cigarette explosions has startled people across the country, leading many vapers to question the safety of their new-found habit. But it’s the batteries used to power vaporizers, often cheaply-made lithium-ion batteries, that are at the root of these devastating accidents, leaving consumers severely burned and psychologically traumatized.
At Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman, we’ve seen with our own eyes the damage that a defective e cig battery explosion can inflict on the health and livelihoods of unsuspecting users. Our experienced personal injury attorneys are actively representing several clients, all of whom sustained serious burns from exploding electronic cigarettes. Led by Marc Freund, Esq., Partner at the firm, our team is accepting new lawsuits nationwide.
Here’s Why Lithium-Ion Batteries Are Exploding In E-Cigarettes
Lithium-ion batteries are nearly ubiquitous in today’s consumer electronics. Rechargeable and highly efficient, the batteries can be found in everything from smartphones and laptops to electric vehicles. But one thing sets all of these uses apart from electronic cigarettes, according to Venkat Viswanathan, professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University: a lack of “sophisticated management systems.”
Batteries made for high-end consumer electronics usually go through years of safety testing, as manufacturers struggle to meet rigorous industry specifications. More than that, an internal “fail-safe” circuit regulates their performance from the inside, ensuring that an expensive battery doesn’t overcharge or undercharge to devastating effect. Because these things can be dangerous. Unlike other batteries, lithium-ion batteries must be kept pressurized to work and pressure, especially through repeat charging cycles, can become a serious safety issue. Beyond that, lithium-ion batteries contain a highly-flammable electrolyte fluid, essential for conducting lithium ions from one end of the battery to the other
Cheap lithium-ion batteries, on the other hand, frequently used to power electronic cigarettes, might not have a fail-safe, Viswanathan told Wired Magazine in February 2016. Churned out by the thousands, often in overseas factories with few safety requirements, these poor-quality batteries may be more likely than not to short-circuit, overheat or even blow up. But it’s not just small manufacturers whose batteries have been found defective. In 2005, Sony recalled nearly 10 million lithium-ion batteries that were susceptible to dendrite formation, a build-up of metal filaments that can cause a devastating short-circuit.
When Battery Manufacturers & Vape Shops Fail, Consumers Suffer
These risks aren’t theoretical. Our experienced product liability attorneys are already representing several clients who were severely injured by exploding e-cig batteries.
It’s crucial to note that the majority of e-cigarette explosions appear to involve no user error. In several reports, electronic cigarettes exploded before they had ever been plugged in, leading fire marshals across the country to point an accusatory finger at lithium-ion battery manufacturers, companies whose products too often reach our homes in dangerously defective condition.
There’s no excuse for evading our nation’s strong consumer safety protections, which require manufacturers to produce safe products or warn consumers of reasonable risks. Battery manufacturers who make unsafe products can, and should, be held accountable for threatening lives with their negligence.
But all too often, retailers are also failing to notify their customers of these serious risks. Marc Freund, Partner at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman is currently representing multiple clients who were injured by exploding electronic cigarettes. His own investigations have uncovered worrying evidence that many vape shops aren’t warning customers about these e cig battery problems.
Some, it seems, may be doing everything they can to skirt the woefully minimal regulations controlling the sale and advertisement of vaporizers. Marc is actively representing a 14-year-old boy who claims a vape shop employee readily demonstrated several devices for him, despite New York regulations that prohibit the sale or marketing of e-cigs to minors.
Dozens Report Unexpected E Cig Battery Explosions
In February 2012, a Florida man lost several teeth and a portion of his tongue after an e-cig exploded during use. Chief Butch Parker of the North Bay Fire District told ABC News that the explosion was likely caused by a “faulty battery inside the electronic cigarette.” While Parker was unable to determine what brand of e-cigarette the man had purchased, a charging station plugged in at the family’s Niceville home suggested that a rechargeable lithium-ion battery had been used to power the device.
Only three months later, Oklahoma resident Shona Bear Clark was about to use her first electronic cigarette, a now-discontinued “cig-a-like” model manufactured by industry-leader NJOY. But even before Clark was finished removing the e-cig from its packaging, the device exploded with enough force to topple a 15-pound lamp and knock a piece of art off the opposite wall. Clark likened the incident to “a gun fired right in your face.” She suffered
One of our own clients, who spoke with ABC7 in April 2016, suffered third-degree burns to her leg after an e-cig battery blew up in her pocket. Explosions like that aren’t as rare as you’d think. In Kentucky, a man’s pants burst into flame after the e-cig battery he was carrying in his pocket exploded without warning. Cleveland fire officials recently posted pictures on Facebook of a lithium-ion battery that had unexpectedly exploded in a lab technician’s coat pocket.
Electronic cigarettes have been promoted as an alternative to traditional cigarettes, and manufacturers often claim that their vaporizing devices are far “safer” than combustible tobacco products. But how often are consumers notified of the safety concerns associated, not with the contents of eLiquid, but with the batteries they use to power their electronic cigarettes? In our experience, these warnings are few and far between.
The Problem With Mods
Electronic cigarettes come in all shapes and sizes. Most users start out with “cig-a-like” devices, e-cigs that closely resemble traditional combustible devices and can be purchased in nearly every convenience store in the US.
Scattered reports of “cig-a-like” explosions have emerged, but the bulk of incidents appear to involve “mod” or “mechanical mod” vaporizers, more complex devices with interchangeable components for personal customization.
Batteries, eLiquid tanks and heating atomizers can be switched in and out at will, but more often than not, consumers are offered little guidance in the varying energy requirements or capacities of these “mix-and-match” components. Does this battery work in this charger? Will this atomizer withstand the voltage of this battery? It’s a guessing game, but one with potentially fatal results.
That’s only half of the problem. In an effort to capture younger, or less technologically-inclined customers, many manufacturers and local vape shops have begun putting together “starter kit” mods, assembling their own favored combination of components to sell directly. When these retailers fail to take each component’s specifications into account, consumers may be receiving an e-cig just waiting to explode.
Our E Cig Lawyers Can Help
None of this is news to Marc Freund, a personal injury lawyer and Partner here at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman. Currently representing multiple clients who were injured by exploding e cigs, Marc is taking on large manufacturers and local vape shopes alike in the name of public health and greater corporate accountability. By filing electronic cigarette lawsuits, survivors can stand up, and tell the vaporizer industry it’s time to start thinking about more than profits.
If you were harmed during an electronic cigarette explosion, call our experienced attorneys today for a free legal consultation. You owe us nothing, and your case evaluation comes at no obligation. Just call 212-285-3300 to speak with a lawyer now.