A Massachusetts man who spent several days in the hospital with severe burn injuries caused by an exploding e-cigarette battery is suing the vape shop that sold him the device.
The Methuen, Massachusetts, man filed the lawsuit in Rockingham County (N.H.) Superior Court against Heavenz Smoke and Vape World of Salem New Hampshire, claiming it sold him a Chinese-made MXJO lithium ion battery for his e-cigarette but failed to warn him about the dangers of the device, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.
On Dec. 26, 2016, the man and his son were traveling through New Hampshire to go snowmobiling when the e-cigarette battery suddenly flared inside his right pants pocket. The man dove into the snow to extinguish the flames, which seared the skin on his right buttocks, thigh, and leg down to the knee.
The man’s son drove him to Franklin Regional Hospital in New Hampshire for treatment. He was later transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston where he spent 10 days undergoing treatment for second- and third-degree burns, including multiple skin grafts and three surgeries.
The lawsuit alleges Heavenz Smoke and Vape World is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because it should have known the lithium ion battery was unsafe when it sold the battery to the plaintiff months before the explosion. The lawsuit, which also alleges Consumer Protection Act violations, seeks damages for the plaintiff’s injuries.
“The defendant had a duty to warn customers of the dangers of explosions and fires. The defendant failed to warn of the dangers in the reasonably foreseeable use of the battery product,” the lawsuit states, according to the Union Leader.
Chinese manufacturers are notoriously difficult to hold liable for defective products in the U.S. judicial system, leaving any U.S. companies that distribute and sell Chinese products potentially liable for any damages they cause.
In 2016, the U.S. Fire Administration compiled a report on e-cigarette explosions and injuries, which have maimed and even killed hundreds of people in the U.S. over the last decade.
“The e-cigarette/lithium-ion battery combination presents a new and unique hazard to consumers. No other consumer product places a battery with a known explosion hazard such as this in such close proximity to the human body. It is this intimate contact between the body and the battery that is most responsible for the severity of the injuries that have been seen. While the failure rate of the lithium-ion batteries is very small, the consequences of a failure, as we have seen, can be severe and life-altering for the consumer,” the report said.
Studies have shown that most e-cigarette explosions and fires occur in the user’s pants pocket and most victims of burn injuries to the legs and groin area are male.
Beasley Allen is currently investigating similar 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.