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In May 2018, the apparent first death linked to an exploding electronic cigarette, or vape pen, happened to a man in St. Petersburg, Florida. According to the director of investigations at the medical examiner’s office for Pinellas County, the vape pen exploded and the victim suffered a fatal injury from a “projectile wound to the head.” The victim also suffered burns to 80 percent of his body as the explosion caused a fire in the room.
It’s the first such death known in the U.S. from an e-cigarette. One of the pieces of projectile that was removed from the victim’s head had the logo from a Philippines-based company called Smok-E Mountain Mech Works, which makes mechanical mod vape pens that are different from more common vape pens. Mechanical mods allow users to directly access the battery for modification and don’t use inner circuitry to regulate the voltage produced by the battery.
In a statement to the New York Times, the president of the American Vaping Association Gregory Conley said “Today, the products [mechanical mods] are overwhelmingly used by hobbyists. Millions of adults use vapor products regularly and tragic events like this are rare.” He also cited that the e-cig and vape pen devices used by the majority of people have more built-in safety features to avoid these types of scenarios.
However, in a 2017 report from the United States Fire Administration showed that from 2009 to 2016 there were 195 reports of e-cigarette explosions. The online site e Cig One has been compiling e-cig explosions reported in local and national media around the world. To date, the site had found 267 e-cig explosion reports. Of those explosions, they detail:
- 69 happened during use
- 89 happened during charging
- 58 happened while transporting or storing
- 51 involved spare batteries or mechanical mods
Of those explosions reported by e Cig One, 177 resulted in a form of personal injury. Most injuries involve burns on the hands, burns, or arms. But burns also occur in the legs if the vape pen or e-cig is stored in the pockets of the pants.
While reports in the media rarely mention the type or manufacturer of the e-cig that caused the explosion, there have been some mentions of specific brands. Wotopho's Phantom and KangerTech were both mentioned in news reports in 2015 and 2016 respectively and in 2018, the R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company put out a voluntary recall of their Vuse Vibe power units after 10 users complained about battery malfunction and overheating.
At Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter, our attorneys have extensive experience with product liability cases. If you or someone you love has been injured due to a malfunctioning vape pen or e-cigarette and was using the device correctly, we can help you pursue a product liability claim and recoup compensation for your injuries.
Please call us today at 407-712-7300 to schedule your free consultation. We proudly serve those who live in and near Orlando, Tamps, and Miami, Florida.