Marker & Crannell, P.C.
Exploding Batteries - Your Vape Might be a Ticking time bomb
Samsung, LG Chem, Sony, Panasonic, and Toshiba are all names we reocgnize as producing some of our favorite technology products. They also make the top 10 list of manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries - the same batteries that are exploding and injuring hundreds of people each year. With vape kits exploding in peoples' pockets, faces, and hands the injuries range from minor burns to devastating, skin-melting 3rd degree burns requiring skin grafts and causing permanent disfigurement.
Lithium-ion batteries are a technological revolution that has allowed us to miniaturize and mobilize because of their high effeciency (a lot of power from a small battery). Because of lithium-ion batteries we are able to power our cell phones and laptops for a full day, use a cordless vacuum to clean our floors, power an impact drill...you get it, the list goes on and on. These batteries are everywhere. And for the most part, the products are built to prevent an injury from the battery, so the battery has a very low risk of injury and the very high reward of holding a powerful and long-lasting charge without being heavy or bulky.
Compaines routinely build safety mechanisms into their lithium-ion products that shield a user from a battery explosion. These devices usually keep the batteries contained in a housing that is permanent to prevent the battery from being exposed to the elements (heat, liquid, dust/debris) and also to shield the user from a potential explosion. They do this because these batteries are known to be extremely volatile.
When it comes to vape kits, e-cigs, and other similar devices, the batteries are sold to the consumer without any protective device. The picture at the top of this article shows an unexploded lithium-ion batter and an exploded lithium-ion battery. It is common to purchase a loose, single lithium-ion battery from a vape shop or tobacco store for use in a vaporizor or e-cig. These batteries are often sold without any packaging, without any warnings, and without any instructions. The end-user will then place that battery in a device that doesn't have a protective housing and carry it around in their pocket. Their leg might sweat, getting the battery wet. The pressure of bumping into something might bend an electrode in the battery causing it to short circuit. Then, without warning, it explodes - maybe while in the pocket like this gentleman below:
And maybe it explodes during use, like this:
When a store buys batteries that aren't intended to be used by a consumer (instead, they are intended to be placed into a product with a permanent protective housing) and they remove warnings, packaging, or instructions, they can be liable for the end-user's injuries when the battery explodes. If the store can identify the manufacturer, then oftentimes the manufacturer will be liable for the injuries caused by the explosion. Identifying the battery can be a major undertaking since many of the batteries being sold by vape shops and tobacco stores are actually counterfeit batteries, oftentimes from China. Their battery housing may say LG, but if the vape store purchased the cheapest box of batteries it could find off of e-bay, then there is a good chance LG didn't make them. LG's batteries explode, too, but counterfeit batteries are typically sub-par quality with cheap parts and low production standards. These cheap batteries are even more volatile than the higher-quality, brand-name batteries.
If you have been burned by a battery, or you know someone who has, contact us immediately. These cases can be very complex and require extensive investigation, so you should contact an attorney immediately.
Below is a video of a battery explosion. Just imagine if that thing was in your pocket or your mouth when it went off.