So why do E-cigarettes have such a passionate following, when it seems that every week we learn of more and more exploding batteries and injuries? As a dangerous and defective products attorney, it is my duty to inform the public of potential dangers in using certain products and how to avoid injury. Although my last article on vaporizers and e-cigarettes caused a bit of an uproar, and more than a bit of hate mail, I believe it’s important to continue to advocate for consumer’s rights, and to ensure that these devices are made safely and distributed according to law, and are consumer-friendly, with proper warnings. It seems to me that the vape industry is full of individuals and companies who want to take short cuts not normally allowed American manufacturers, distributors or retailers. With batteries made in China and sold without any labeling and no warnings, and e-cigarettes sold with no warnings or proper instructions for safety, we have an explosive situation on our hands, and in our pockets, and in our cars, and occasionally in our faces. That’s why this case below is especially troubling.
Cordero Caples, a 29 year old man from Tennessee is in the hospital after an electronic cigarette exploded in his face this past Friday. Mr. Caples suffered a fractured vertebra, facial fractures, and at least one missing tooth in the sudden explosion. And to make matters worse? The injuries he sustained from the explosion may leave him permanently paralyzed, never to walk again.
Although no official reports about what caused the explosion have been released, a smoke shop owner in Memphis was shown a photo of the e-cigarette Caples was using and noticed that the battery seemed odd. “This is way too powerful to power this” said Mary Grace Burns, owner of the smoke shop. “Way too hot of a battery. You can have a way-too-high amped battery in there or something like that could easily misfire and cause something like that. It’s operator error though.”
Caples has been in surgery since Sunday, and his condition has been upgraded to “fair.”
“Any sudden move can cause him to be in a paralyzed state, and that is something we don’t want. He’s going to need 24-hour care for a while and constant monitoring from family and friends and loved ones. You know it is heart breaking but we’re going to bond together” said Caples’ sister.
So even without the official word on why the e-cigarette exploded, it looks like it may be due to faulty battery, or a battery in the device that was much too powerful for Caples’ cigarette. In any event, shouldn’t manufacturers be aware that these higher amped batteries are being used in their products? Shouldn’t we be warning users not to tamper with batteries, or upgrade devices with such dangerous power sources? How are we as consumer to know what kind of battery goes in these devices without the company alerting us as to the dangers of such use, or misuse? If a company makes a product, it’s up to them to tell us how to properly use it, and understand how it may be used after purchase. E-cigarettes have gone unregulated and the sellers of the components have been unaccountable for too long; it’s time we hold them responsible for the products they produce and sell.
And you know, I would feel this way about any product sold in this country where we supposedly have the best consumer protection. If the product is defective and harms someone, the companies and individuals who are responsible must be held accountable, even if the product is as popular as the e-cigs.
And, in my last post on this subject, I asked those who commented most strongly to present to me some evidence supporting the safety of e-cigarettes, or even how they were healthier than commercial cigarettes, but I got not responses. I wonder if those who were so passionate in their condemnation of my last post on this subject are really shills of the e-cigarette or tobacco industry?
Claude A. Wyle is a partner of Choulos Choulos, and Wyle, a San Francisco based law firm dedicated to representing clients who have been injured by the wrongful conduct of individuals, corporations, public entities, and businesses. Mr. Wyle also frequently sits as a Judge Pro Tem for the city and county of San Francisco.