When Personal Vaporizers Explode: An Entire Industry Designed Around the Wrong Battery
By Chris Moore
Since the mid-2000s, we have become more reliant on lithium-ion batteries and the devices they power. The batteries are extremely useful and serve an important function. Just a decade ago, it would have been inconceivable for a laptop computer or a smartphone to be used for an entire day on just one charge.
This revolutionary technology is changing the way we live. But with such an intense energy source, the batteries also carry great risk if not handled and used properly. When lithium-ion batteries fail, the results can be catastrophic. The batteries can catch fire and explode, sometimes causing serious personal injury (think: second or third-degree burns) and property damage.
The seriousness of that risk has gained recent attention in the world of e-cigarettes and personal vaporizers, also known as ‘mods’ or ‘vapes.’ Many of these devices require the use of a particular kind of lithium-ion battery called an 18650 (referring to its size, 18mm by 65mm), a lithium-ion battery that is slightly bigger than the AA battery.
18650 lithium-ion batteries are manufactured by major corporations like Samsung, LG, Sony and Panasonic as well as a host of companies in China that produce batteries of varying degrees of quality. These batteries, and even similar, counterfeit batteries, are being sold throughout the world, including online.
The problem is that 18650 lithium-ion batteries are designed to be used by manufacturers putting together battery packs for devices like power drills, cordless vacuum cleaners, or landscaping equipment. In those power packs, the individual 18650 batteries are packaged together with internal circuit protection and encased in thick rubber or plastic. Often both the charger and the application incorporate safety features to keep the battery within a safe operating or charging level. In order to prevent catastrophic failure, the charger keeps the batteries from being overcharged, and the device itself shuts off if the batteries are overheating due to a short circuit.
Because most e-cigarettes and vaporizers that use 18650 batteries do not have such safety features, people who use them are putting themselves at risk every time they take a puff. 18650 lithium-ion batteries are generally not meant to be sold direct to consumers for use in mods, which often lack safety mechanisms to prevent the battery from exploding. Of course, most people would never realize this when they find the batteries readily available in vape stores and online. And many in the retail business of the vape industry are ignorant of this danger as well.
Absent safety circuitry in both the charger and the device, there is nothing to stop an individual 18650 battery from exploding. Sometimes the battery explodes while in use, but often they explode when being carried around in a person’s pocket. A thin plastic wrap is all that prevents the metal casing of an 18650 lithium-ion battery from being directly exposed to its outside environment. People who vape often will carry a spare, fully-charged battery with them to use during a long workday. Through natural wear and tear, the plastic wrap easily rips. It is only a matter of time before both terminals of the battery come into contact with something metal like a set of keys. When both terminals come into contact with the metal object, the battery rapidly heats up and explodes. Unfortunately, we regularly see people injured from this exact scenario.
I have represented people throughout the country who have been seriously injured by the batteries used in many mods and vapes. The law allows us to seek compensation from all parts of the 18650 lithium-ion battery supply chain, including manufacturers, distributors and retailers.
Of course, I hope that you will never need to use my services. If you do choose to vape, please make sure you use a device that does not use an 18650 lithium-ion battery. Pick a device that has an internal battery or that has safety features that will prevent the battery from shorting.
Chris Moore is a RPWB attorney who handles many product liability and personal injury cases throughout the country. He is a 2019 Super Lawyers Rising Star. In addition to working on personal vaporizer explosion cases, he has successfully litigated personal injury and property damage cases involving devices like cell phones, laptops and the battery packs used for remote-controlled cars, scooters and hover boards. To learn more about our lithium-ion battery explosion practice area, please click here. If you would like us to take a look at your case, please fill out the form on this page or give us a call.
Our Experienced Lawyers
How can we help? Fill out the form for a free case review.
- Toll Free: 888.293.6883
Nov 27, 2023
RPWB Represented a Whistleblower who Helped the Federal Government Recoup $1.7 million
ORLANDO, Fla. – The federal government has recouped $1.7 million from a healthcare provider who fraudulently billed Medicare and TRICARE for medical procedures that were not deemed necessary and were performed by an unqualified technician. In the settlement agreement, Jena Medical Group LLC, as well as several individuals associated with the company, have agreed to […]READ MORE
Oct 17, 2023
Local Non-Profit to Receive $500,000 to Help Low Income Households Save Money on Power Bills
CHARLESTON, S.C. – A local energy conservation non-profit will receive nearly $500,000 to help low income residents in Berkeley, Georgetown and Horry counties conserve energy and save money on energy bills. The Sustainability Institute will receive $484,345.89 in unclaimed monies from the 2021 settlement of the class action lawsuit Hearn v. Santee Cooper. The case […]READ MORE
Oct 02, 2023
RPWB Announces the Passing of J. David Butler
It is with great sorrow and heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our friend, colleague and law partner, J. David Butler on September 30, 2023, after a valiant three-year battle with cancer. He was a friend to all and was, quite simply, the nicest guy one could have the pleasure of knowing. Dave […]READ MORE
Aug 21, 2023
17 RPWB Attorneys Selected for Best Lawyers in America List
MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C – Seventeen RPWB attorneys were selected for the 2024 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® list for numerous practice areas including personal injury, product liability, mass tort, class action, qui tam and medical malpractice litigation. This marks the seventh consecutive year in which RPWB is the top-listed plaintiff law firm in […]READ MORE
May 01, 2023
Trial Lawyer Deon Tedder Joins RPWB
Trial attorney Deon Tedder has joined Rogers, Patrick, Westbrook & Brickman, LLC, where he will focus on personal injury, mass torts and criminal defense work out of the firm’s Mount Pleasant and Columbia offices. Tedder joins RPWB after working at David Aylor Law Offices for the past five years, where he helped many clients in […]READ MORE
Feb 03, 2023
Johnson & Johnson Talc Bankruptcy Petition Dismissal is a Win for Mesothelioma and Ovarian Cancer Victims
By Dave Butler In a significant victory for injured consumers, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the bankruptcy petition of a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that holds the company’s liabilities for claims brought by thousands of consumers injured by exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc in Johnson & Johnson products. The dismissal, on January 30, 2023, […]READ MORE
Nov 03, 2022
U.S. News & World Report: RPWB is a Top National Law Firm for Mass Torts & Class Actions
CHARLESTON, S.C. — RPWB is incredibly proud to be selected as one of the top national law firms for mass torts and class actions by U.S. News & World Report. RPWB is officially listed as a Tier 1 law firm for such cases, the highest possible designation. In addition to the national selection, RPWB also […]READ MORE
Oct 12, 2022
How Do Camp Lejeune Lawsuits Actually Work?
You’ve no doubt seen the ads on television, but did you ever wonder how Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits actually work? Our team breaks it down for you. RPWB has filed its first administrative claims with the Navy JAG, the first step in the litigation process under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. The JAG is tasked […]READ MORE
Aug 18, 2022
With Sixteen Attorneys Named to Best Lawyers List, RPWB is the Top-Listed Product Liability and Class Action Law Firm in the State
Sixteen RPWB attorneys were selected for the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® list for numerous practice areas including personal injury, product liability, mass tort, class action and medical malpractice litigation. This marks the sixth consecutive year in which RPWB is the top-listed plaintiff law firm in South Carolina for both product liability […]READ MORE
Aug 10, 2022
With a New Law, Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Victims Finally Have Legal Recourse
For more than 30 years, the drinking water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune was contaminated with a cocktail of dangerous toxins linked to cancer, leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and other serious medical conditions. Now after intense lobbying by veteran’s groups and others, victims of Camp Lejeune’s contaminated water have legal recourse for compensation. On Wednesday, […]READ MORE
Aug 03, 2022
Congress Passes Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Law
Over a 34-year period, many thousands of Marines and their families were exposed to dangerous water contamination at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. After a long wait, justice may finally be in sight. Congress approved bi-partisan legislation on Tuesday night that will clear the way for veterans and their families to seek compensation in federal […]READ MORE
Jul 05, 2022
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Law Close to Passing, Would Finally Bring Justice to Veterans and their Families
A bill that is close to becoming law could finally provide justice and financial relief to veterans and their families for health problems caused by water contamination at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The bi-partisan Honoring our PACT Act of 2021 has passed both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. It was sent […]READ MORE
Jun 21, 2022
RPWB Helped Doctors Get Refunds for Non-Conforming Records Software
RPWB attorneys played a leading role in more than 5,000 doctors’ offices receiving refunds for being misled about their electronic medical record software qualifying for Medicare and Medicaid incentives. For years, Greenway Health sold software it claimed was certified under the federal government’s “Meaningful Use” program. That program includes financial incentives designed to reward physicians […]READ MORE
Apr 28, 2022
Federal Court Certifies Fair Labor Standards Act Collective Action Against Las Vegas Restaurant
A federal district court has authorized notice to current and former employees of the Boiling Crab restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada who were employed at any time between March 23, 2018 and October 26, 2020. The notice permits current and former workers to opt-in to the pending litigation alleging that employees were improperly denied compensation […]READ MORE
Apr 26, 2022
Whistleblower Case Involving Medicare/Medicaid Fraud Settles for $24.5 million
Physician Partners of America, of Tampa, Fla., has agreed to repay the federal government $24.5 million in a settlement to resolve four whistleblower cases brought under the False Claims Act. Current and former employees of the company came forward to allege that the company billed Medicare and Medicaid for unnecessary medical testing and services, paid […]READ MORE