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Texas Officials Link Man's Death to Exploding Vape Pen as Lawsuits Over Dangerous Devices Pile Up

Feb 12, 2019

A man from Fort Worth, Texas died after his vape pen exploded and severed a major artery, local officials say. A report from the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office shows the 24-year-old victim’s fatal injury was sustained as a result of a vaporizer pen that exploded while he was attempting to use it.

According to KHOU 11, the victim had purchased a vaporizer pen from a local vape store in Keller, Texas. When he attempted to use it in a vehicle, the battery exploded and sent debris flying into his face and neck. He was able to exit the vehicle and search for help before being rushed to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries two days after being admitted.

Imaging tests performed on the victim showed metal from the vape pen embedded in his neck and that his left carotid artery, which carries blood to the brain, had been dissected. It remains unclear as to what type of vape pen the victim had been using. The store where he purchased the pen has not issued any comments to the media.

Exploding Vape Pens: Serious Risks of Injury & Death Prompt Lawsuits

The tragedy involving this victim, who would have celebrated his 25th birthday this month, is unfortunately not the only one involving vaporizer pens. According to reports, the first wrongful death lawsuit involving a fatal vape pen explosion was filed in California in late 2017 over the death of a New York man who was killed when using a vape pen in his home in 2015. Just 9 months ago, officials linked the death of a South Florida man to an exploding vape pen which sent shrapnel into his skull. The incidents have raised a number of concerns over consumer safety involving vape pens.

Vape pens, or e-cigarettes, are devices which use small heating elements to vaporize liquid solutions, sometimes called “juice,” as well as solutions containing extracted CBD and / or THC components of marijuana popular in states with legalized medicinal or recreational cannabis. Though there are many devices currently on the market, they generally consist of a battery component (typically thin cylindrical lithium-ion batteries) and a cartridge, which contains the solution to be vaporized. They may automatically activate a heating coil when a user takes a “drag,” or manually when a button is pressed.

A study from the UNT Health Science Center recently published in Tobacco Control has found that between 2015 and 2017, U.S. emergency rooms reported more than 2,000 explosions and burn injuries involving e-cigs. The report also noted there were likely many more which went unreported.

The Problem with Vape Pens

Lithium-ion batteries used in many vape pens have layers of metallic anode and cathode materials which are separated by a porous film containing a liquid electrolyte that can explode or ignite when batteries overheat. While lithium-ion batteries are used to power many consumer products, such as laptops, cell phones, or power tools, advocates say they're often too powerful and under-regulated when they’re used in vape pens, making the devices more prone to overheating and more likely to injure users.

Faulty vape pens pose significant dangers to consumers, particularly when they explode or catch fire while they are in a user’s mouth, near their face or neck, or in their pocket, or while the user is driving a motor vehicle. In such situations, victims face elevated risks of suffering serious harm, including:

  • Facial, dental, and eye injuries
  • Severe burn injuries, including burns to the face or neck, and burns to legs or genitalia when devices explode while in victims’ pockets
  • Lacerations, including life-threatening lacerations of major arteries in the neck
  • Traumatic brain injuries caused by exploding debris
  • Disfigurement or disability (including hearing and vision loss)
  • Wrongful death

As stories from victims and research come to light, the dangers of vape pens and e-cigs are becoming clear. Often marketed as safer alternatives to combustible tobacco and traditional cigarettes, these devices can be dangerous and deadly – especially when companies that have an obligation to ensure the safety of their products fail to meet their legal duty of care.

E-Cig, Vape Pen Lawsuits on the Rise

Lawsuits over vape pens implicated in serious injuries or deaths have been steadily increasing. In many cases, these lawsuits focus on product liability, and raise claims against:

  • Manufacturers that defectively designed, manufactured, or marketed the unsafe products;
  • Companies and retailers involved in the marketing of unsafe vape pens or products;
  • Companies or individuals that altered vape pens or created and / or distributed altered vape pen batteries and products which posed unreasonable risks to consumers;
  • Stores that defectively designed, tested, distributed, and / or sold vape pens or vape pen batteries in a defective condition dangerous to the consumer.

These lawsuits often focus on the negligence of in-person and online retailers that sold defective and dangerous vape pens and vape pen products, as well as manufacturers of the products themselves. As with other personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, these claims provide victims and families with an opportunity to hold at-fault parties accountable for their negligence, and to raise awareness about significant dangers and the need to ensure better regulatory oversight. They also allow them to seek financial compensation for what can be substantial damages involving medical bills and future medical needs, lost income or earning potential, physical pain and suffering, emotional injuries, and more. Juries in these cases have awarded millions in favor of victims injured as a result of e-cig explosions.

Injured? Nationwide Trial Attorneys at Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC Can Help.

Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC is a national law practice with a reputation for securing proven results on behalf of victims and families in complex personal injury cases, including those involving serious injuries and wrongful death caused by dangerous and defective products. If you have questions about a potential claim involving an exploding vape pen or e-cigarette anywhere in Texas or the U.S., our attorneys are available to discuss your rights and options during a free, in-depth consultation.

Call (888) 367-7160 or contact us online to speak with a lawyer.

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