The lawsuits involving e-cigarettes claim the manufacturers of these nicotine delivery devices were negligent in the battery design, which has resulted in explosions, burns and property damage.
Additionally, there are allegations that the manufacturers of these products failed to warn users of the increased risk of a lung disease known as "popcorn lung."
Why are E-Cigarette Lawsuits Being Filed
Claims are being filed against the manufacturers of e-cigarettes because the batteries in the devices have been known to overheat and explode during normal use, and also during charging, causing severe burns to users and property damage.
Litigation also is being filed as a result of the connection between e-cigarettes and the lung disease bronchiolitis obliterans ("popcorn lung").
Most of the e-cigarette fires occur when the device is being charged in a USB port or being carried in a person's pocket. The problem appears to be that different USB ports put out different levels of current, which can cause the battery in the e-cigarette to overheat. Additionally, if a battery is being carried in a person's pocket, it can come in contact with loose metal objects (such as keys), which can cause it to short.
The accidental explosions often could be corrected if the manufacturers utilized overcharging technology and locking mechanisms that would prevent the devices from activating without knowledge, or by having the positive and negative leads on the batteries protected from contact with unintended objects.
What is the Purpose of Electronic Cigarette (E-Cigarette) Products
Electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigarettes, e-cigs or vaping products) are designed to look like cigarettes, writing pens, USB flash drives and other common products.
These devices use a liquid that contains nicotine and various types of flavors, as well as propylene glycol and glycerin. The liquid is heated through the use of a battery and heating coils. The liquid becomes a vapor, where it can be inhaled, which is why the use of these products are often referred to as "vaping".
Electronic cigarettes have been marketed as a way to help people quit conventional smoking, and to lower the risk of lung cancer. However, research shows that the opposite might be true.
A study performed by the University of California - San Francisco found that many adolescents who would not have started smoking cigarettes began vaping, and then moved to conventional tobacco products. It was not until August 2016 that the FDA began requiring purchasers of e-cigs to be eighteen years of age or older.
The first e-cigarette was designed by Herbert Gilbert in the early 1960s. The tobacco industry refused to promote it, however, as it saw it as a threat to its huge tobacco market. In 2003, Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik patented what is known as the modern e-cigarette.
There are approximately 500 companies worldwide that manufacture and sale e-cigarettes, which has become a $7 billion industry. As of 2015, approximately 4% of all American adults used e-cigarettes and other “vaping” devices on a regular basis.
What are the Concerns with E-Cigarettes
The most immediate concern with e-cigarettes are severe burns and property damage caused by the device exploding while smoking or during charging.
Another key health concern with the use of e-cigarettes is the development of bronchiolitis obliterans, a serious lung disease that is irreversible. This disease is caused by the chemical diacetyl, which is used in many of the e-cig flavors. When the chemical is inhaled, it can cause scarring in the lungs.
A third concern is that e-cigarette use has been found to potentially expose users to the heavy metal toxins cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese and nickel.
While e-cig explosions appear to be rare, the results have been very serious. Due to the potential severity, airplane passengers are not permitted to store e-cigarettes in checked luggage. Instead, they must carry the devices with them on the plane.
In order to minimize the chances of an e-cigarette explosion, it is recommended that people purchase domestically-produced products from reputable, U.S.-based companies rather than those manufactured overseas, where production standards and regulations are much weaker. Users should also avoid activating the button for more than a few seconds and overcharging the device – both of which can weaken the battery, making it more likely to explode and catch fire.
Symptoms of popcorn lung include coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, similar to the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Beginning in August 2018, e-cigarette manufacturers will be required to warn about the addictive nature of nicotine.
E-Cigarette Lawsuit News
There are three main pieces that make an e-cig functional. The cartridge or tank (where the liquid nicotine is stored), the atomizer (the heating element), and the battery. Of these elements, the battery, seems to be the most suspect party. To read more, click E-Cig ReviewsE-Cigarette Explosions: Comprehensive List
People have begun to experience different types of e-cigarette explosions since sub-ohm vaping and mods with removable batteries have become more popular. More than ever, e-cigarettes explode during use. Explosions resulting from people carrying spare batteries in their pockets are also far more common. To read more, click E-Cig OneE-Cigarette Users Sue Over Exploding Devices
When Ms. Berven pushed the activation button, she claims the e-cigarette exploded, ripping a hole in her mouth and spewing battery acid across her body. Months later, Ms. Berven is struggling to pay for dental procedures, and bears scars on her face. To read more, click Wall Street Journal
In Colorado alone last year, there were 16 e-cigarette explosion cases that were admitted to the UCHealth burn center, seven at Swedish Medical Center, two at Denver International Airport, two in Telluride, three in Colorado Springs and one in Greeley. In total, there were at least 34 e-cigarette battery explosions in Colorado in 2016, with 27 of those cases involving injuries. To read more, click Denver NewsE-cig explosions blamed for facial injuries, severe burns
Dozens of lawsuits have been filed by consumers who say their e-cigs blew up, causing serious and expensive injuries. The Food and Drug Administration has found 134 reports of overheating, fires, and explosions of the devices in the U.S. between 2009 and January 2016. To read more, click Consumer AffairsPeople Are Suing Over Exploding E-Cigarettes
Electronic cigarettes are seen by some as a safer alternative to traditional forms of smoking, though the jury is still largely out on their long-term health effects. Now, the so-called "e-cigs" are facing another safety issue, as multiple users have filed lawsuits alleging their battery-powered devices exploded and, in some cases, caused serious injuries. To read more, click Time MagazineE-cigarettes are expanding tobacco product use among youth
E-cigarettes are actually attracting a new population of adolescents who might not otherwise have smoked tobacco products. Researchers concluded that low-risk youths in the study, who went on to smoke regular cigarettes, may not have used nicotine at all if e-cigarettes did not exist. To read more, click Science Daily
For additional news stories, click Levin Law E-cigarette News
How Much Compensation can be Recovered in an E-Cigarette Claim
We will be seeking the following damages for you:
- Past and future medical expenses that result from physical injuries (whether burns or lung disease).
- Past and future mental pain and suffering caused by your physical injuries, and the treatment and recovery process.
- Past and future wage loss, if any.
- Other economic losses you might have sustained as a result of e-cigarette harm (such as property damage).
- Punitive damages, if appropriate.
As of this time, there has not been a recall of e-cigarettes related to explosions or lung disease. However, it was not until 2016 that the FDA received the authority to regulate these devices.
The FDA has scheduled formal science-based public hearings to start in April 2017 to gather information regarding the cause and prevention of battery explosions.
As of this time, there have been no large group settlements involving e-cigs and battery explosions or popcorn lung. Generally, however, large groups of settlements do not occur until such time as a few cases are tried before a jury, and the manufacturer is able to more thoroughly understand its financial risk.