Vape Explosion Injuries Trigger Lawsuits Across the Country
April 15th, 2018
Thomas Gangi wasn’t the first person to be injured when a vape pen exploded or caught fire, but he does hold one distinction. Gangi appears to be the first known user to have been killed by an e-cigarette explosion. A wrongful death case pending in California alleges that Gangi was at home when a vape pen explosion allegedly launched a projectile into his skull, and starting a fire. Gangi died in the fire.
Though the specifics of Gangi’s case may be unusual, serious injuries from vape pen explosions are not. According to Courthouse News Service, at least eight users filed suit in 2017 alleging that vape devices had exploded in their mouths. Dozens more claimed that they’d been burned in the leg or groin area after vape pen batteries caught fire in their pockets.
How Serious are Vape Pen Explosions?
Vape pen battery explosions are similar, both in seriousness and in apparent cause, to the infamous exploding batteries in the Samsung Galaxy 7 phones. One obvious difference that increases the danger and the damage is that vape pens, used as intended, go in your mouth.
Some serious injuries reported around the country include:
- A California man was working at his desk with his e-cigarette next to him when it suddenly exploded, hitting him in the eye. The device continued upward to strike the ceiling before landing on his desk and starting a fire. He suffered broken orbital and sinus bones and lost his left eyeball.
- An Idaho man lost seven teeth and sustained second-degree burns to his face when his vape pen exploded in his mouth as he was getting ready for work in the morning.
- A California woman was awarded a $1.9 million verdict after her e-cigarette exploded while charging in her car, splashing chemicals on her and setting her dress on fire. She sustained second-degree burns on her legs, buttocks, and hand, and suffered permanent scarring.
- A Washington state man had to be transported by air ambulance after his vape device exploded in his hand. After his fifth surgery, it remained unclear whether he would regain use of his right hand.
E-Cigarette Explosions Aren’t New
Though vape explosions are attracting a lot of attention recently, the phenomenon isn’t actually a new one. In 2017, the U.S. Fire Administration released a report on electronic cigarette fires and explosions from 2009-2016. During that period, the agency found that 195 exploding-vape incidents had been reported in the U.S. media. Of course, not all explosions, or even all explosions involving injury, would have been reported.
133 of those reported incidents caused acute injuries, 29% of which were classified as “severe.” The vape industry has suggested that the vast majority of e-cigarette explosions occur while the devices are charging. However, unsurprisingly, most of the reported injuries occurred while the device was either in use or being carried in a pocket. Of the 195 events studied, 61 involved devices exploding or catching fire in the user’s pocket, and another 60 while the device was in use. This misrepresentation and failure to adequately warn may form the basis of several vape pen lawsuits brought by vape pen explosion lawyers across the country.
Liability for Vape Pen Explosion Injuries
Product liability lawsuits based on vape pen explosions generally assert two claims:
- That the device is defectively designed and thus unreasonably dangerous when used as intended
- That manufacturers and distributors have failed to adequately warn users of the danger
Product liability claims are different from many types of injury cases, in that everyone in the supply chain is potentially liable to the injured party. That means the injury victim can file suit against the manufacturer, the wholesaler, the retailer who sold him or her the device, and anyone else along the path from manufacturer to consumer. In some cases, manufacturers of components may also be responsible.
If you’ve been injured by an e-cigarette that exploded or caught fire, talk to a vape pen explosion lawyer today to learn more about your rights. Call Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. for a free consultation at 1-800-298-0111.
Paul Cannon has practiced personal injury trial law since 1995. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law (2005). He has earned recognition as a Super Lawyer by Thompson Reuters in 2017 & 2018, and as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association in 2017. He is a Shareholder, trial lawyer and online marketing manager at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. His legal writings have been published by the Texas Bar Journal, Lawyer.com HG Legal Resources, Lawfirms.com, AttorneyAt Work.com and others. He has been asked to give education talks and media interviews on Texas and National Dog Bite Law.