A Virginia Beach man who suffered severe burn injuries when his e-cigarette exploded in his pants pocket is taking the manufacturer and other parties to court.

Chris Taylor told WAVY-TV that he was getting in his car a couple of weeks ago when he heard a loud bang. Before he knew what had happened, the seat of his car and his leg had become engulfed in flames.

Mr. Taylor realized that his SnowWolf brand vape device had exploded in the pocket of his pants. SnowWolf vapes are made by a company in Dongguan, China.

“I’m on fire from my hip all the way down to my leg and I have to put it out,” Mr. Taylor told WAVY. “And I’m like, I gotta put it out, I gotta put it out. So as I’m trying to put it out, the fire isn’t going anywhere and there is vape juice inside of my pocket so I feel another explosion.”

The heat from the explosion and resulting fire was so intense that it melted the vape and left Mr. Taylor with fifth-degree burns on his leg. Doctors had to remove skin from his other leg to repair the damage, leaving him in excruciating pain and unable to walk.

Mr. Taylor has since undergone three surgeries and is scheduled for a fourth. It’s likely that he will need several more procedures and therapy sessions to overcome the burn injuries.

The e-cigarette explosion has also left Mr. Taylor unable to work and get around.

Like many people injured by vape device explosions, Mr. Taylor was surprised by how a small and relatively common device could cause so much damage and hardship.

“In this particular case, it was not being used at all, and that’s a problem,” his lawyer told WAVY. “Even if he was using it, that would be a bigger problem.”

A report published in BMJ Journals found that from 2015 to 2017, there were at least 2,035 explosions and burn injuries caused by e-cigarettes, vape pens, and other vape devices. The authors of the study noted that the number was likely much higher due to the difficulty of accurately tracking vape explosions.

There have also been several additional e-cigarette explosions since then, including blasts that killed a Florida man in 2018 and a Texas man in 2019.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates tobacco products, including vape products, says that “battery-related issues” are the source of most explosions. Vapes are powered by lithium-ion batteries, which the U.S. Fire Administration said are “not a safe source of energy for these devices.”

“The shape and construction of electronic cigarettes can make them (more likely than other products with lithium-ion batteries) behave like ‘flaming rockets’ when a battery fails,” the Fire Administration wrote in a 2017 report about vape explosions.

We are currently investigating cases involving severe injuries caused by exploding e-cigarette devices and exploding e-cigarette batteries. These explosions have been linked to faulty e-cigarette products, defective lithium-ion batteries, and insufficient warnings for users. With few regulations to ensure their safety, e-cigarette devices have been aggressively marketed and sold in stores throughout the United States. Contact William Sutton in our Toxic Torts Section to discuss your claim.

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