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E-Cigarette Explosion Injuries and Lawsuits in St. Louis

E-cigarettes are advertised as a safer and healthier alternative to regular cigarettes. This advertisement may be deceptive. As e-cigarette use continues to grow in popularity over the last five years, so has the number of injuries resulting from e-cigarette use. Smoking electronic cigarettes, also known as vaping or e-cigs, substitutes the tobacco found in normal cigarettes with nicotine and flavored chemical juices. Inhaling the vapor from the e-cigarettes is claimed to be healthier than inhaling cigarette smoke. Advocates for e-cigarettes claim that using e-cigarettes can even help people quit smoking; however, related studies indicate mixed results for this claim.

A growing number of injury victims have reported e-cigarette’s exploding, catching on fire, and causing various health problems. Aside from the immediate physical danger of an e-cig explosion or fire, the reality is that little is known about the long-term health effects of smoking e-cigarettes.

Dixon Injury Firm offers a broad range of legal services. Our St. Louis e-cig explosion lawyers bring grade-a legal counsel to clients and their families. Please contact us for additional information and a free consultation from our e-cig explosions lawyers.

Filing a Lawsuit for E-Cigarette Explosions

The toxic chemicals used in e-cigarettes are not the only hazards. E-cigarette manufacturers are facing lawsuits for their e-cigarettes exploding or catching fire during use. The explosions caused many to endure severe burns, loss of teeth, permanent scarring, and various other e-cig injuries.

The explosions are a result of the battery, typically a lithium-ion battery used to heat up the e-cigarette juices to create the vapor, overheating. The explosions have occurred when the individual is charging or even using the e-cigarette. Lithium-ion batteries have been related to many explosions because of their inability to control the large amounts of power stored in small compartments. As the device heats, or in some cases cools, there is a build-up of internal pressure in the e-cigarette until it explodes. The e-cigarette itself is not designed to withstand the power build-up that occurs with the specific battery, as the battery is placed at the weakest point, the tip, of the e-cigarette.

The "'Mini-Bomb' in Your Pocket"

The American Journal of Medical Case Reports looked into the cause of e-cigarette’s explosion during use and reported that “the lithium ion battery has separately been described as the ‘mini-bomb in your pocket,’ due to its known ability to spontaneously ignite. Poor design, use of low-quality materials, manufacturing flaws and defects, and improper use and handling can all contribute to a condition known as ‘thermal runaway,’ whereby the internal battery temperature can increase to the point of causing a battery fire or explosion.” The combustible battery acid results in severe burns to the user. The United States Fire Administration called e-cigarettes “flaming rockets” when the battery fails.

An e-cigarette explosion can happen at any given moment with no warning to the user. Once the battery shorts, the explosion happens so quickly that there is often little to no time to respond. Whether the e-cigarette is in mid-puff, resting in one’s pocket, or charging on the kitchen counter, there is no indication what causes the sudden surge of power and overheating in the battery that causes the explosion.

Lack of FDA Regulations on E-Cig Batteries

While the FDA is working towards increasing the safety of e-cigarette ingredients, no such progress has been made towards regulating the battery safety. Currently there are no existing regulations requiring safety measures in batteries, and the issue was not addressed in the recent FDA e-cigarette statements. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission does not regulate the products either. Both government agencies are aware of the increasing dangers posed by exploding e-cigarettes and have collected data on the injuries resulting from such instances.

However, since currently there is no authority controlling the safety of the e-cigarettes, manufacturers have little incentive to report any safety defects that could create potential explosions and injuries. This also decreases the incentive for companies to try and find safer alternatives to the lithium ion battery used in e-cigarettes. Until regulations are put into place to monitor manufacturers use and development of lithium ion batteries in their products, e-cigarette users remain at risk for permanent damage as a result of the exploding e-cigarettes.

E-Cigarette Lung Disease and Toxins

The juices for the e-cigarette vapor contains nicotine, artificial flavoring, and harmful chemicals that include formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and diacetyl. E-cigarette companies have been under fire for failing to warn consumers of the potential dangers of the known carcinogens in their products. One California study found the formaldehyde levels in e-cigarettes to be 470 times higher than permitted in California. Flavored e-cigarettes contain the ingredient diacetyl, which is found in the butter flavor in microwave popcorn. Diacetyl is directly linked to bronchiolitis obliterans, more commonly known as “popcorn lung,” which is a chronic lung disease that scars tiny air sacs within the lungs, making it difficult to breath. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found the toxic chemical in 76% of the e-cigarettes tested.

New FDA Electronic Cigarette Regulations

On May 9, 2016, the FDA announced new regulations which will go into affect August 9, 2016. These regulations will ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and require all e-cigarette manufacturers to submit extensive testing on the safety of all ingredients used in their products produced since 2007. It is predicted that the FDA will ban 99% of e-cigarettes currently on the market as a result.

E-Cig Explosion Lawsuits and Jury Awards

In October, a jury awarded a woman from California $1.9 million in damages after her e-cigarette exploded while charging in her car. The explosion caused severe burns and scarring to her legs and face. Recently, there have been two reported cases in California where the e-cigarettes have exploded in men’s pockets. Both men were left with severe burns. One of the men received 2nd and 3rd degree burns and spent 11 days in the hospital recovering. Doctors expect the full recovery to take up to two years.

Another California man is seeking reimbursement from the e-cigarette manufacturer after his e-cigarette exploded during use at his computer, striking him in his eye, shattering his orbital bones and sinus cavity, and then starting a fire in the house. Doctors had to remove the one eye due to the severity of the injury. In Florida, a 21-year-old man was placed into a medically induced coma due to the severity of the burns from the e-cigarette explosion to the internal and external parts of his lungs.

In the last three months, four e-cigarette explosions have occurred in Missouri alone.

Getting the Legal Help You Deserve

You should be able to trust that the products put on the market are safe to use. Our e-cig attorneys aggressively fight to hold the companies providing faulty e-cigarettes accountable for your harms and losses. Contact our firm today to discuss your case.

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