Horrifying footage that has now gone viral shows a French nightclub owner being engulfed by flames after his electronic cigarette battery exploded in his pocket. The disturbing incident, which unfortunately is not that uncommon, highlights the dangers posed by defective lithium batteries installed in many of today’s vape pens. In the video, published early this month, Toulouse club manager Amine Britel is seen desperately trying to shed his jacket after his e-cigarette device catches on fire. Two of the nightclub’s workers rush to his aid, and are able to put out the flames.
“I heard what sounded like a firecracker but ten times louder,” Britel told French reporters after the incident. “After the shock of the explosion, I realized I had caught on fire.” While the injury could have been much worse, Britel still suffered second-degree burns on his hand, midsection and hip.
The Toulouse incident marks the latest in a string of vape pen explosions in the last few years. According to FEMA statistics, 25 separate incidents of explosion and fire involving e-cig batteries were reported in the U.S. between 2009 and 2014. At least a dozen more e-cig injuries have been reported in the past 16 months.
E-cig fire and explosion: key takeaways
Millions of people across the globe have taken up “vaping” as a safer and healthier alternative to tobacco cigarettes. In the U.S., an estimated 2.5 million people use e-cigs, which is now a billion dollar industry. However, malfunctioning batteries have been linked to an alarming number of injury reports, and at least one death. According to FEMA data, at least 80 percent of e-cigarette explosions happen while the units are charging. Officials believe that most fires occur when the devices are connected to charging cables that were not sold with the battery.
At present, federal officials have yet to create a database that tracks all injuries and fires associated with electronic cigarettes, leaving hospital and media reports our most accurate source. A recent report from health care providers at the University of Washington Medical Center show an upward trend in serious injuries from e-cig battery explosions. The hospital treated 15 different patients from October 2015 to June 2016. Many of the victims suffered second and third-degree burns requiring skin graft surgery. Others suffered significant blast injuries, soft tissue loss, dental damage and chemical burns from battery fluid.
Lawsuits being filed against e-cig manufacturers
It comes as no surprise that multiple legal complaints have been filed against the manufacturers of electronic cigarettes, alleging the lithium ion battery units suffer design and manufacturing defects. Victims have brought e-cigarette explosion lawsuits in Florida, California, New York and several other states, in the hopes of recovering fair compensation for their injuries and losses.
Here at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye, it is our conviction that manufacturers should be held accountable for placing profits over consumer safety. Our personal injury lawyers understand the physical, emotional and financial burdens placed on those who suffer serious harm. If you or a loved one suffered burns or injury from an exploding e-cigarette, you may have a claim for damages. Call us today to arrange a free consultation.