Jul 13, 2020 Updated Jul 14, 2020
A man who claims he suffered serious burns after the battery from his vaping device caught fire in his pocket is now suing the Salem store that sold him the product.
Wayne Borden of Methuen, Mass., filed suit last week against Heavenz Smoke and Vape World, alleging the business is liable, negligent and failed to warn of the dangers posed by the Chinese-made MXJO lithium ion battery, which is used to charge electronic nicotine-delivery vaping devices.
According to the suit filed in Rockingham County Superior Court, Borden and his son were traveling through New Hampshire on their way to a planned snowmobile trip on Dec. 26, 2019, when the battery spontaneously ignited and caused second- and third-degree burns to his right buttocks, the front side of his right thigh, and his knee.
Borden got out of the vehicle and dove into the snow to extinguish the fire before his son brought him to Franklin Regional Hospital for treatment, the suit said. He was later transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital where he received multiple skin grafts and underwent three surgeries during his 10-day hospital stay.
The suit seeks damages for the injuries, for which Borden alleges Heavenz Smoke and Vape World is responsible.
Among other things, Borden alleges the store should have known that the battery wasn’t safe when he bought it a few months before the fire.
“The defendant had a duty to warn customers of the dangers of explosions and fires. The defendant failed to warn of the dangers in the reasonably foreseeable use of the battery product,” said the suit, which was filed through Michael Rainboth, Borden’s Portsmouth attorney.
A representative from the store could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.
The batteries have been the subject of multiple lawsuits brought by others who claim they suffered burns when they ignited.
The incidents prompted a review by the U.S. Fire Administration, which found 195 reports of e-cigarette fire and explosion incidents in the United States between 2009 and 2016.
According to the agency’s review, 133 acute injuries were reported from those incidents. In 61 of the cases, the injuries occurred while the vaping device or a spare battery were in a victim’s pocket.
“The e-cigarette/lithium-ion battery combination presents a new and unique hazard to consumers. No other consumer product places a battery with a known explosion hazard such as this in such close proximity to the human body. It is this intimate contact between the body and the battery that is most responsible for the severity of the injuries that have been seen. While the failure rate of the lithium-ion batteries is very small, the consequences of a failure, as we have seen, can be severe and life-altering for the consumer,” the report said.
The agency also noted that “responsible” battery and e-cigarette manufacturers were working to address the lithium-ion battery failures.
“Unfortunately, the manufacturers cannot control what modifications are made by the consumer, or what replacement battery is installed into the e-cigarette by the consumer. The impact of safety features on consumer safety can be dampened by consumer behavior,” the report said.
In his suit, which also alleges Consumer Protection Act violations, Borden maintained that he handled the battery properly and that it was not modified by him or anyone else after it was “designed, manufactured, produced, marketed, supplied, packaged, distributed, sold and placed into the stream of commerce.”
Source: New Hampshire Union leader