At least four New Jersey residents have sought damages for injuries suffered when their electronic cigarettes exploded. The lawsuits filed in New Jersey name local retailers, as well as the manufacturers of the lithium ion batteries used in the e-cigs.
Critics say that vaping devices, or electronic cigarettes, have rapidly grown into a $10 billion a year industry, much of without any realistic oversight or regulation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to papers filed with the court, the cylinder batteries that power the cigarettes can overheat, causing them to be launched out of the device "like a rocket." In a case in California last year, an attorney obtained a $1.9 million judgment against a retailer, wholesaler and distributor.
Attorneys for the injured parties in New Jersey say that it's become common knowledge that e-cigarettes pose a risk of injury when batteries overheat. For that reason, manufacturers, distributors and sellers should know of the dangers and should have legal responsibility to anyone who is injured by the devices.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs say their primary goal is to put the vaping industry on notice that they need to address the problem. They point out that more teenagers use vaping devices than smoke tobacco and that more than half admitted in a national study that they did not know there were any dangers associated with e-cigarettes.
The four New Jersey residents injured by vaping devices include:
- A Berlin man who suffered third degree burns to his leg when the e-cigarette exploded in his pocket
- A Cumberland County resident who had shrapnel and battery acid on his leg and foot when an e-cigarette exploded in his pants pocket
- A 16-year-old girl who had to have plastic surgery on her mouth and lips and who lost her vision for a number of days because of a corneal abrasion. The vaping device, which exploded in her face, also knocked out four teeth
- A 17-year-old boy who suffered serious burns to his arms and chest when a vaping device exploded
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