An Albany, N.Y., man has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the maker of an e-cigarette that allegedly exploded while in his mouth.
Kenneth Barbero was seriously injured May 16 when he hit the power button on his e-cigarette. He told the press that he saw a flash of bright light and experienced a blast that “was like an M-80 went off in my mouth.”
The next thing he remembered was lying on the floor of his home, on fire, with paralyzed arms. Alone at the time, Me. Barbero said he was afraid he would burn alive.
Mr. Barbero continues to undergo treatment for his injuries, which include teeth that were blown out, a hole ripped through the middle of his tongue, and severe burns on his hands.
The law firm representing Mr. Barbero said that the explosion was likely caused by a malfunction of the device’s lithium-ion battery – a theory that jibes with a U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) / Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) report, “Electronic Cigarette Fires and Explosions.”
Mr. Barbero told the press he no longer uses e-cigarettes and advises others to reconsider the habit, which has become wildly popular among millennials.
The USFA/FEMA report says that five incidents of explosion and fire involving e-cigarettes have been reported by the press in the U.S. between 2009 and 2014. The number of actual cases is almost certainly much higher.
Lawyers in New York reported on Digital Journal that there have been six e-cigarette explosions in New York alone since 2009.
Although there are reports of devices exploding in people’s faces, hands, and pockets, most of the reported incidents occurred when the devices were charging. Lithium-ion batteries are prone to overheat, especially if being charged with power sources not compatible with the devices. The cylindrical shape and construction of e-cigarettes also makes them more likely to act like “flaming rockets” when the battery malfunctions, according to the USFA.