The personal injury attorneys at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman are now accepting cases nationwide from consumers who were burned or otherwise injured in an electronic cigarette explosion. Our experienced lawyers have turned their full attention to this growing problem, with an eye to the manufacturers of defective lithium-ion batteries and the vape shopes who sell these potentially-deadly products without adequate warnings.
Reports of devastating e-cig explosions have emerged across the country. From California to Georgia, casual and long-time users have been shocked to find their electronic cigarettes, products that are almost completely unregulated, shooting fire and metal device components. But our exploding e-cig lawyers aren’t satisfied to rely on media reports. We’re taken this growing issue head-on, already accepting several active cases and spearheading a national effort to hold negligent manufacturers and retailers accountable.
Marc Freund Selected To Lead Our E-Cig Explosion Litigation Team
Marc Freund, Esq., a Partner at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman, has been chosen to lead this developing litigation. He currently represents multiple clients who suffered severe, often third-degree, burns and puncture wounds after a defective e-cig battery exploded. His legal experience, and knowledge of the vaporizer industry, has already gained the attention of New York’s leading media sources, including CBS New York and the New York Daily News.
Marc is one of the brightest young litigators here at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman. Since joining the firm, soon after completing his Juris Doctor degree at Fordham Law, Marc has excelled both inside and outside of the courtroom. In April of 2016, he secured a $1 million settlement for an injured slip-and-fall victim, marking his tenth straight victory in a jury trial. Marc is the youngest attorney to ever be named Partner in the Firm’s nearly 30 year history.
For more information on Marc’s experience and accomplishments, click here.
When Electronic Cigarettes Explode, Consumers Suffer
As in any explosion, the risks of personal injury posed by an exploding e-cig are extremely high. But because these devices are placed in the mouth, held in the hand and, more often than not, carried on the person of a victim, a defective electronic cigarette may present even greater dangers than non-portable consumer electronics.
With that being said, these explosions are caused by the batteries used in electronic cigarettes and, as you would expect, most reported incidents seem to occur while an e-cig is charging, plugged into a wall outlet, laptop or car charger. But other incidents, including the trauma suffered by one of our own clients, have involved batteries in people’s pockets and explosions during active use are not unheard of.
Media reports have focused on personal injuries like:
- burns, frequently second- or third-degree
- chemical burns
- puncture wounds
- loss of limb, including fingers and teeth
- facial disfigurement
- loss of sight
While certainly of extreme importance, these personal injuries are often accompanied by the wide-ranging damage caused by the fires many e-cig explosions begin.
In a 2014 review of 25 such explosions, the Federal Emergency Management Agency found that a majority of these incidents caused at least “minor” fire spread. Carpets, drapes, bedding, couches or vehicle seats were ignited in “most” of the explosions, government officials determined. The potential for substantial property damage is obvious, and in at least one explosion, an entire bedroom was lost to the fire. Eight explosions resulted in fires that required a fire department’s efforts to extinguish the blaze.
Quality & Warnings: Sorely Lacking In E Cigs
Many of these devices are cheaply-made, churned out by the thousands in factories scattered across the globe, often in countries where consumer safety is not the priority it is here in the United States. Some of the e-cigarette industry’s leaders have even taken issue with the inferior quality of these foreign-made products. In 2014, vaporizer giants Mistic and White Cloud moved production from China to the US, citing concerns over inconsistent manufacturing results and stricter FDA regulations, according to Reuters.
FDA Safety Reviews Coming, But Not Here Yet
More than two years later, those FDA regulations have finally arrived. On May 5, 2016, the agency announced a final ruling, “Deeming Tobacco Products To Be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act,” that will require the vast majority of electronic cigarette products, from cig-a-likes and vape pens to complex personal vaporizers, to undergo federal safety reviews. Beginning on August 8, 2016, manufacturers will be required to:
- register their manufacturing facilities with the FDA
- report all ingredients, including harmful or potentially harmful ones, to the agency
- receive premarket review and FDA authorization prior to sale
- put health warnings on packaging and in advertisements
Nearly every e-cigarette product will be required to undergo FDA review. The rule pertains to all products that reached the US market on or after February 15, 2007.
The FDA’s new-found powers will go far beyond the eLiquids vaporized inside electronic cigarettes. “Components and parts” are a big part of the agency’s plan to improve the consistency and quality of e-cigs. Any device, from atomizers to eLiquid tanks, that you could “reasonably expect” to be used for the consumption of tobacco-containing products will also undergo strict FDA safety reviews.
Will Batteries Undergo FDA Safety Testing?
Lithium-ion batteries, which have been implicated as the cause of most e-cig explosions, are covered by the FDA’s finalized ruling. But this is rather complicated, since more complex personal vaporizers often use the same batteries that are also sold for use in laptops and other consumer electronics. The agency’s authority probably won’t go that far, but all batteries that are packaged along with e-cigarettes, or could be “reasonably expected” to be used with e-cigarettes will now have to meet the agency’s safety specifications.
That means most of the batteries you see in vape shops will be strictly regulated, undergoing stringent quality and safety reviews from manufacture to sale. But of course, these are huge changes, and they won’t happen overnight. Under the FDA’s new rule, e-cigarette and e-cig battery manufacturers will be given one of three deadlines for preparing their approval applications, either 12, 18 or 24 months after the rule goes into effect on August 8. In the meantime, significant concerns remain unanswered, not only about the contents and long-term health effects of vaporizing, but about the safety of e-cigarette technology itself.
There should be no doubt, however, that many vapers have already been severely injured by defective e cigs. But what’s really at the root of this problem?
E Cig Batteries, Pre-Assembled Systems Pose Serious Risks
Most e-cigarette explosions appear to be caused by defective lithium-ion batteries, power sources frequently used in high-end consumer electronics. In costly applications, these batteries are often outfitted with a number of extra safety features, which prevent the products from overheating and short-circuiting. The batteries used in e-cigs, on the other hand, often come without these essential safety checks – a disaster waiting to happen.
But even sophisticated lithium-ion batteries, ones manufactured to exacting specifications, can explode. It’s all about the other components used to assemble a given electronic cigarette. Batteries are delicate, and can only handle voltages within a specific range, a range that necessarily changes according to an individual product’s intended use and construction. Pair an inappropriate battery with the wrong charger and the battery’s already-flammable contents can quickly overheat, expanding beyond the casing’s pressure capacity and ultimately exploding.
This problem has become even more urgent now that many vape shops have begun assembling their own e-cig “starter kits,” complete with an atomizer, tank, battery and charger. If these kits aren’t designed with the utmost care, incompatible components can be delivered straight into an unsuspecting user’s hands.