Dedicated Virginia lawyers at the forefront of the e-cigarette and vaping crisis
While the dangers of e-cigarettes are becoming common knowledge, Phelan Petty’s Richmond injury lawyers have been helping victims of vaping-related injuries for years. We have seen first-hand the harm that an e-cigarette or an exploding e-cigarette battery can cause, and we are committed to helping victims of dangerous and defective vape pens.
If you or your loved one suffered vaping injuries due to defective or dangerous e-cigarettes or e-cigarette batteries, you deserve accountability and answers. Our team has extensive experience handling vaping injury claims, including those involving explosions and fires. Contact us today to find out how we can help.
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Studies show e-cigarettes are dangerous
Contrary to what many vape pen users believe, e-cigarettes are just as addictive and unhealthy as traditional cigarettes. Studies have shown that some e-cigs contain more nicotine than tobacco-based products. There are also concerns that dangerous chemicals and particles have caused a recent outbreak of vaping-associated pulmonary injury (VAPI), or e-cigarette and vaping product use-associated injury (EVALI).
In September 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested that everyone refrain from vaping, due to serious health risks. As of February 2020, it reports at least 2,758 EVALI cases in the United States, spanning across 48 states. The majority of victims (61%) are between the ages of 18 and 34 years old. However, a troubling 15% of victims are under the age of 18.
Doctors and scientists have linked vaping and e-cigarettes to serious, permanent, and potentially deadly conditions and symptoms, including:
|· Balance problems||· Cognitive impairments||· Coronary heart disease||· Fatigue|
|· Fevers||· Lung disease||· Mood disorders||· Nausea and vomiting|
|· Permanent brain damage||· Seizures||· Shortness of breath||· Strokes and heart attacks|
State and federal agencies are just starting to regulate the e-cigarette industry, and health organizations have not had time to study all of the consequences of vaping. Therefore, there are no comprehensive studies of the effects of vaporizing e-cigarette juice and inhaling the vapors into one’s lungs, and the long-term effects are still largely unknown.
Are e-cigarette companies targeting children?
The vaping industry targets young people, who, not surprisingly, are embracing vaping. The statistics are troubling:
- In 2019, more than one in four 12th graders have tried e-cigarettes.
- This year, 20% of 10th-grade students and one in eleven 8th graders have tried vaping.
- Children who vape are more likely to use traditional cigarettes than non-users.
- The majority of children (66%) think that vape cartridges only contain flavoring.
- Only 13.2% realize that e-cigarettes contain nicotine.
- The majority of children are exposed to e-cigarette marketing.
While some states have banned flavored e-cigarette pods and packaging that appeals to children, like Juul vapes and pods, Virginia has not yet adopted these precautions. However, stores cannot legally sell vaping or nicotine products to people under the age of 21 in the Commonwealth.
Can an e-cigarette really explode? How?
Many of the lithium-ion batteries sold at vape shops are made in China in plants with inadequate quality control and quality assurance programs. Canister-shaped lithium-ion batteries are made by layering three strips: one outer strip of anode; one middle strip of a thin, plastic separator; and another outer strip of cathode. Using ultrasound welding, tabs are welded to the anode and cathode. The three strips are then rolled up like a carpet and inserted into a metal canister. Electrolytes are added and a vent is inserted at the top end of the canister.
This manufacturing process should be carefully performed in a sterile environment to ensure that burrs are not created in the welding process and that manufacturing debris does not contaminate the rolled-up anode, separator, and cathode. This is important because large burrs caused by shoddy welding practices or pieces of manufacturing debris can pierce the separator. Piercing of the separator will result in an internal short circuit, which may lead to thermal runaway. E-cigarette battery fires and explosions occur when the gas pressure and heat from thermal runaway are not adequately dissipated by the vent mechanism.
There are also reports of Chinese companies that buy rejected batteries from other manufacturers, re-labelling and selling them under their own label. This practice is called “re-wrapping.”
Finally, there are reports of fake, knock-off batteries. This problem is serious enough that many battery manufacturers have an anti-counterfeit program. Typically, this program involves authenticating the battery on the manufacturer’s website by scanning or entering a bar code or ID number that appears on the battery.
The bottom line is that we need safety standards that focus on battery safety. If you vape, we recommend that you do not buy Chinese-made batteries for your device. We also recommend that you follow the battery manufacturer’s instructions for determining whether your battery is a fake.
There are other steps you can take to decrease the risk of your e-cig battery short-circuiting and catching fire.
Do not use batteries with torn labels
A battery wrapper serves as necessary insulation and may pose a risk of an external short circuit if damaged. Short circuits occur when the positive to negative circuit is completed. A piece of metal that is simultaneously touching the negative and positive electrode can cause a short. If the battery wrapper is torn, any exposed metal is a section of exposed negative electrode. The closer the tear is to the positive electrode, the more likely it is that a set of keys or a coin can simultaneously contact the positive and negative electrodes.
Store your spare batteries safely
Storing spare batteries in separate, non-conductive containers will help maintain the integrity of the wrapper. This will then reduce the possibility of the battery experiencing an external short circuit.
Do not carry loose batteries
Many batteries come with a warning to the user not to carry the battery loosely in a pocket, purse, or bag. Batteries should not be carried (or stored) anywhere where they may come into contact with keys, coins, or other metals.
Follow warnings and instructions
Vaping devices and batteries from legitimate sources will include warnings and instructions for safe use of the products. Vape pens and e-cigarettes that are modified beyond their original design or are powered with inappropriate batteries are more susceptible to exploding during use.
How we can help with your Richmond e-cigarette case
Our lawyers have handled numerous e-cigarette battery explosion claims, and we know how the vape shops, distributors, and manufacturers defend these cases. At Phelan Petty, we understand the complexity of e-cigarette cases and have ample experience with these unique product liability claims. We work to identify the exact causes of our clients’ injuries, explosions, or fires, consult with renowned experts to prove that the battery or device was defective, and counter the professional witnesses hired by the defense.
Our Richmond attorneys help victims of e-cigarette and vaping injuries
E-cigarette manufacturers have misled the public for years regarding the safety and hazards about their products. At Phelan Petty, we have the resources and the tenacity to stand up to the big companies. Have you been injured by a defective e-cigarette battery or device, or experienced health problems from vaping? Contact our experienced product liability attorneys today.