An e-cigarette lawsuit may be an option for people who were injured by e-cigarettes or other electronic vaping devices. There have been numerous reports of e-cigarette explosions, which led to serious burn injuries for some users. It remains unclear whether e-cigarettes are a viable alternative conventional tobacco products because they still contain nicotine and other chemicals, which can potentially lead to other adverse health effects as well. Affected people and their families may be eligible to seek compensation with the help of a product liability attorney.
For more information, contact the Attorney Group. We offer free, confidential, no obligation consultations. We can help answer your questions, and if you choose to pursue a case we can connect you with an affiliated e-cigarette lawsuit attorney who can assist you throughout the legal process.
Have You Seen an E-Cigarette Lawsuit Commercial?
You may have seen an e-cigarette lawsuit commercial on television and wondered whether you or a loved one have been affected by electronic cigarettes or other vaping devices and, if so, whether you are eligible to pursue a claim against the manufacturer or others. The purpose of this article is to provide you with additional information so that you have a better understanding of your options.
What is an E-Cigarette?
Electronic cigarettes, officially known as “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)” and popularly known as “e-cigarettes,” are battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine and other chemicals in a flavored vapor instead of smoke.
E-cigarettes, along with other electronic vaporizers, vape pens, hookah pens can be designed to resemble conventional cigarettes, cigars or pipes. In some cases, the devices may look like everyday items or have no resemblance to cigarettes at all.
E-Cigarette Burn Injuries
Despite the popularity of e-cigarettes and electronic vaping devices, injuries associated with e-cigarette burns and explosions reportedly pose a public safety concern.
E-cigarette fires and explosions can happen while someone is carrying the device in their pocket, or while the device is being charged through USB port or wall socket.
Medical doctors at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle note that, from October 2015 to June 2016, 15 patients were treated with injuries from e-cigarette explosions due to the lithium-ion battery component.
The U.S. Fire Administration, a department of Homeland Security, has indicated that at least 25 separate incidents of e-cigarette explosions were reported between 2009 and 2014 as well.
Injuries related to e-cigarette explosions include flame burns, chemical burns and blast injuries. E-cigarette explosions have been reportedly responsible for burn and burn-related injuries to the face, hands and groin.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, e-cigarette injuries have led to other complications, including:
- Tooth loss
- Traumatic tattooing
- Extensive loss of soft tissue
- Extensive wound care
- Skin grafts
- Chemical skin burns
As a result of these injuries, patients sometimes required operations to remove damaged tissue as well as other potential medical care, including plastic surgery, burn care, vocational counseling and psychological therapy.
Other E-Cigarette Risks
Like other tobacco products, e-cigarettes and vaping devices contain nicotine, a naturally occurring alkaloid found in tobacco plants. Nicotine is highly addictive, and at high doses, can be lethal. According to a warning issued by the FDA, the agency “is concerned about the safety” of e-cigarettes and other similar products and “how they are marketed to the public.”
The FDA is primarily concerned that
- e-cigarettes can increase nicotine addiction among young people and may lead them to try other tobacco products, including conventional cigarettes, which are known to cause disease and lead to premature death;
- e-cigarettes and other vaporizing devices may contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to humans; and
- because clinical studies about the safety and efficacy of these products for their intended use have not been submitted to FDA, consumers currently have no way of knowing whether e-cigarettes are safe for their intended use, or about what types or concentrations of potentially harmful chemicals or what dose of nicotine they are inhaling when they use these products.
In addition to concerns raised by the FDA, other federal agencies and administrators have released information regarding the safety of e-cigarettes and other ENDS.
According to a report issued by the Office of the Surgeon General in 2016, the federal government is concerned about a number of issues related to e-cigarette use, including:
- A strong association between e-cigarettes and conventional tobacco products
- Nicotine exposure to young people can lead to addiction and issues with brain development
- Nicotine has known effects on fetal and postnatal development, and pregnant women who use e-cigarettes during pregnancy can lead to serious complications, including SIDS, an altered corpus callosum, deficits in auditory processing and obesity.
- E-cigarettes can expose users to a number of chemicals in addition to nicotine, such as carbonyl compounds and volatile organic compounds known to have adverse health effects.
The health effects of e-cigarette liquids are not completely understood. If e-cigarette liquids containing nicotine are ingested, acute toxicity and possible death may occur.
E-Cigarettes and “Popcorn Lung”
Some e-cigarettes and vaping “juice” have been known to contain a buttery-flavored chemical often added to popcorn and other food products known as diacetyl. According to the American Lung Association, diacetyl has been linked to bronchiolitis obliterans, a serious lung disease commonly called “popcorn lung.”
The effects of “popcorn lung” are irreversible and may cause people who suffer from it to experience serious complications, including coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. To date, there have been no known cases of “popcorn lung” associated with the use of e-cigarettes. However, a large number of e-cigarette brands continue to use diacetyl as an ingredient in their products.
In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized a rule extending its authority over all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco and pipe tobacco.
Until May 2016, there were no federal regulations of e-cigarette manufacturers, and retailers were allowed to sell to anyone they wanted.
Federal regulations now require manufacturers of e-cigarettes and other electronic vaping devices to comply with many of the same provisions of traditional cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, and smokeless tobacco, including premarket review and other provisions.
Retailers must also follow federal rules ensuring that e-cigarettes and their accessories are not sold to anyone under the age of 18. Businesses that mix e-liquids or make or modify vaporizers and sell associated products are regulated as both a retailer and tobacco product manufacturer.
Beginning in 2018, product packages and advertisements of all newly-regulated covered tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, must bear a statement saying, “WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.”
Lauren A. on May 16, 2016
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Has There Been an E-Cigarette Recall?
Like many consumer products, e-cigarettes and other ENDS may be subject to recall if the manufacturer decides to do so. According to CNN.com, the FDA identified 134 incidents in the U.S. of e-cigarette batteries overheating, catching fire or exploding from 2009 to January 2016.
Although there has not been a widespread recall of certain e-cigarette brands and batteries, one U.S. senator has urged a recall of certain brands that may be more likely to explode and lead to burn injuries.
Additionally, lawsuits claim that some e-cigarette manufacturers failed to disclose known explosion and burn risks and that people may have suffered damages as a result. Failure to warn of side effects or other potentially harmful risks can be a basis of product liability, regardless of whether the product has been recalled.
Is There an E-Cigarette Class Action?
To date, there has not been an e-cigarette class action lawsuit as a result of burn injuries or other injuries caused by e-cigarette battery explosions.
However, a class action lawsuit filed in November 2015 against an e-cigarette “juice” manufacturer in which the company allegedly failed to warn customers about the risks associated with some of their products that contained diacetyl.
As a result of the manufacturer’s alleged deceptive and misleading labeling, plaintiffs claimed that they were not fully advised of the chemicals and toxins present in the company’s products.
E-cigarette lawsuit attorneys are doubtful that a class action will be certified for people who are adversely affected by e-cigarettes and similar devices. Instead, if multiple e-cigarette lawsuits are filed against the product manufacturers alleging similar injuries and other damages, such as burn injuries from battery explosions and fires caused by e-cigarettes and other vaping devices, it is anticipated that these lawsuits could be consolidated for discovery and other pretrial proceedings.
When cases are consolidated in this way in federal court it is called multidistrict litigation (MDL), and on a state level it is known as a state court consolidated proceeding. MDLs are distinct from class actions, and it is generally agreed that consolidating cases instead of proceeding in a class action is a more efficient and effective way of handling claims arising from injuries caused by consumer products.
Has There Been an E-Cigarette Settlement?
Some cases settle early in the claims process, but it is not expected that there will be early e-cigarette settlements. In most cases that proceed in an MDL or state court consolidated proceedings, after a certain period of time initial trials, also known as bellwether trials, take place. The purpose of these trials is for the parties to get an idea of the types of evidence and arguments that will be made, as well as to see how juries will respond to the evidence and arguments. After a certain number of cases have been tried, the parties are in a better position to determine whether a case can be settled.
It is expected that e-cigarette settlements will follow this pattern, although the outcome of any case is never guaranteed and past results are not necessarily predictive of future outcomes.
E-Cigarette Lawsuit Claims
Several lawsuits have been filed claiming that exploding e-cigarettes caused serious burn injuries as well as other damages associated with e-cigarette battery fires and explosions. In November 2015, three separate lawsuits were filed in California in which plaintiffs claimed to have suffered burn injuries from e-cigarette explosions. Alleged injuries include facial damage, a concussion, leg burns, and tongue and mouth injuries. As a result of these injuries, plaintiffs allegedly required skin grafts, an amputation and several additional surgeries. Other lawsuits have been filed alleging second- and third-degree burns, mouth and teeth injuries, eye injuries, and leg and foot injuries.
E-Cigarette Lawsuit News
- April 2017According to NPR, Navy bans e-cigarettes and similar devices on its ships, submarines, aircraft, boats, craft and heavy equipment.
- April 2017Navy veteran files lawsuit after e-cigarette exploded, blew a hole in his leg, and caused him to suffer third-degree burns to his leg.
- July 2017American Lung Association warns of the potential risks associated with diacetyl, a chemical usually found in microwave popcorn found in some electronic nicotine delivery systems.
- May 2016FDA finalizes rule extending its authority to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and other vaping devices.
- January 2016Surgeon General issues a report on e-cigarette use among youth and young adults comprehensively reviewing the public health issue of e-cigarettes and their potential impact on our nation’s young people.
- November 2015Three lawsuits filed in California allege serious burn injuries as well as other serious damages.
- 2007E-cigarettes are first marketed in the United States.
- 2003Electronic alternatives to conventional cigarettes are developed.
How an E-Cigarette Lawsuit Can Help
Product makers have a duty to provide safe products. If there are risks of harm associated with their products, they also must provide adequate warnings. If a product maker fails to fulfill this duty, it could be held liable in lawsuits for injuries that may result.
People injured by the fault of others may be eligible to recover money for:
Pain and Suffering
The families of those killed may be eligible to recover money for funeral expenses and the pain that comes with losing a loved one.