In May 2018, what is believed to be the first fatality from an exploding vape pen was reported. A 38-year-old man from Florida died from what an autopsy revealed as a “projectile wound of head.” The tragic loss of life that resulted from the vape pen may be connected to the pen’s lithium-ion battery. These types of batteries are also found in devices such as cell phones and laptops.

Product manufacturers have a responsibility to keep consumers safe. If you or a loved one has suffered a severe injury from an exploding lithium-ion battery, or if you suspect the death of a loved one was caused by a product with this type of battery, please get in touch with the defective product liability team at Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann. We offer free, no-obligation consultations and may be able to help you or a loved one obtain the compensation that is deserved.

What Damages Were Caused by Exploding Lithium Batteries?

On May 5, 2018, Tallmadge D’Elia, a Florida resident, was found in a burning bedroom that had caught on fire due to a vape pen explosion

The Food and Drug Administration has, so far, not created any regulations applying to the safety of e-cigarette batteries or electronic mechanics

Consumer products that may contain lithium-ion batteries that may explode, cause severe injury or death, or ignite a fire include e-cigarettes, vape pens, laptops, cameras, fitness trackers and cell phonesLoose lithium-ion batteries that come into contact with metal objects like coins or keys pose a threat

Consumers are warned not to mix and match various devices with various batteries

Consumers are warned never to leave devices with lithium-ion batteries charging while unattended, and to never charge these devices with a phone charger, unless that is the appropriate charger for the device

What Causes Exploding Lithium-Ion Batteries?

According to Wired, lithium-ion batteries are inherently dangerous. A thin and porous polypropylene strip keeps electrodes from touching, but if the strip is breached and the electrodes come into contact, the heat can contribute to an explosion. These types of batteries also contain a skin-burning compound that can singe upon explosion.

From 2009 to 2016, the U.S. Fire Administration reports there were at least 195 electronic cigarette explosions and fires, resulting in at least 133 injuries, including 38 severe injuries. In the case of the fatality, the victim was using a vape pen that is thought to have been created by the manufacturer Smok-E Mountain Mech Works. The manufacturer produces a vape pen called a mechanical mod, which gives users direct access to the battery and does not use inner circuitry to regulate voltage. Because lithium-ion batteries in vape pens are so close to a person’s body when in use, these devices can pose significant dangers.

Lithium-ion batteries were in the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, a smartphone that was notorious for multiple cases of exploding batteries and that was eventually banned on planes and recalled. The company explained in the case of the first battery that was used in the phone, a design flaw resulted in short-circuiting, while the second battery that was used caught fire because of a welding defect. While lithium-ion batteries are extremely powerful and widely used, minor mistakes in design can be deadly.

Batteries that are “non-certified” are more likely to fail, reports Battery University. The battery resource site also points out the following can contribute to lithium-ion battery failure:

  • Excessive vibration
  • Elevated heat
  • Charging lithium-ion batteries below freezing

Consumers should read all product directions thoroughly before using any device with a lithium-ion battery in it. Signs of overheating include:

  • The device is hot to touch
  • The device is hissing
  • The device is bulging

If you notice any of these warning signs, move the device away from any flammable materials, and place it on a non-combustible surface, preferably outdoors. If a device with a lithium-ion battery explodes and catches fire, use a fire extinguisher to put the fire out, or water or soda if no extinguisher is available.

What Constitutes Product Manufacturer Negligence?

While millions of people safely use products with lithium-ion batteries in them every day, there are some instances where a product manufacturer’s negligence plays a part in the severe injuries caused by a lithium-ion battery explosion. Some warning signs include:

The battery is non-certified, and the manufacturer provides zero warning

No battery warning is included in product directions or information

The manufacturer knowingly used faulty batteries in the product

If the company you buy a product from does not warn about the inclusion of a lithium-ion battery in the device, and the dangers that may occur because of using it, the company has failed you as a consumer. As well, the battery manufacturer may have cut corners in design and manufacturing to save money, providing other businesses with dangerous batteries to use in their devices.If you are injured by an exploding lithium-ion battery, make sure to keep all physical evidence of the device, as well as document all injuries because of it. Then, contact a Birmingham defective product attorney to see how you can stay protected.

How Can a Defective Product Lawyer Help You?

The Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann team always works in the best interest of clients. Consumers deserve protection and should be kept safe when they use products. Unfortunately, in the quest to push a product to market or sell more products, companies do not always have consumer interest in mind.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by an exploding lithium-ion battery, please contact us online, or call (205) 322-8880 to speak with one of our team members.


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