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New Jersey lawsuits begin over exploding e-cigarette batteries

We've previously mentioned the dangers of lithium ion batteries in this blog. Now, that danger is making news here in New Jersey, due to lawsuits by four people injured in separate accidents with exploding e-cigarettes.

All four people have suffered serious injuries when the lithium ion batteries in their e-cigarettes exploded. One man had the e-cigarette in his pocket and ended up with third-degree burns to 20 percent of his body and needs skin grafts. The other adult male filing suit also had the e-cigarette in his pocket, but he got off comparatively lucky -- only his foot will eventually require skin grafts.

The other two lawsuits involve teenagers. One, a 17-year-old male, suffered extensive burns on his arms and upper body when his e-cigarette exploded. The 16-year-old female plaintiff from the other suit was injured even more severely. The e-cigarette was near her face when the battery exploded -- it took out her four top teeth and she's already required extensive plastic surgery to restore her lips and mouth. She will eventually need bone grafts and extensive dental work to recover.

These cases illustrate the way that liability laws work in order to protect the consumer. The manufacturers of the defective lithium ion batteries are all Chinese companies. While they are named in the lawsuits as defendants, the real focus of each suit is likely to be on the local distributors or merchants who sold the devices.

Product liability laws assign guilt to everyone in the chain that takes a defective product from its design stage all the way to the merchant that finally puts the product in the hands of an unwitting consumer. That distribution of responsibility helps injured plaintiffs recover their losses in situations like these -- where it could be difficult to make the foreign manufacturer pay up for any damages that are eventually awarded.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs in these cases say that while the consumers may have been unaware that such a small device could do so much damage, the e-cigarette industry as a whole is aware that many of these are dangerous and defective products. However, the $10 billion industry is operating with virtually no governmental oversight and hasn't taken the responsibility on itself to establish any regulations or standards either.

If you've been injured due to the defective battery in an e-cigarette device, an attorney can inform you of your legal options to seeking compensation.

Source: NJ.com, "4 injured N.J. vapers sue e-cigarette retailers for selling exploding devices," Susan K Livio and Kathleen O'Brien, Dec. 16, 2016

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Gary D. Ginsberg is a Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who has been recognized as an expert in litigating cases in the courts of New Jersey.

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