Personal Injury

Vape Shop Insurer Prevails in E-Cigarette Explosion Coverage Dispute

vapintg e cigarette woman shutterstock 346171199 315x210 Vape Shop Insurer Prevails in E Cigarette Explosion Coverage DisputeAtlantic Casualty Insurance Company is off the hook for claims filed against a vape shop over serious injuries she sustained when her e-cigarette exploded in her face.

Spokane, Washington-based Lilac City Vapor said its insurer, Atlantic Casualty, should be liable for the e-cigarette victim’s claims, but a Washington federal court judge granted Atlantic summary judgment on Sept. 7.

According to Law 360, Atlantic based its argument for summary judgment solely on an exclusion that the company said precludes coverage for any personal injuries that occur off the store’s premises.

Law 360 reports:

In the underlying suit, Marlene Rubertt says she suffered a gruesome injury after an e-cig she purchased at Lilac City “exploded in her mouth and face.” The explosion left “blood pouring out of her mouth” and several of her teeth on the floor, according to her complaint. Rubertt is suing the vape shop on negligence and product liability claims.

In its argument, Atlantic said its commercial general liability policy contains a clearly stated exclusion for “all ‘bodily injury’ and ‘property damage’ occurring away from premises you own or rent and arising out of ‘your product.’”

Lilac City Vapor’s lawyers argued that the exclusion wasn’t clear, claiming the phrase “your product” was ambiguous because it didn’t specify to whom the pronoun “your” referred. The e-cigarette vendor’s lawyers also argued the negligence claim “was broad enough to trigger coverage since it could encompass activities that took place at the shop during the manufacture of the allegedly faulty e-cig,” Law 360 reported.

Atlantic contested the vape shop’s arguments, calling them “long on citations to abstract principles of insurance coverage law but short on substance.”

According to Law 360, Ms. Rubertt was at a basketball game in January 2016 when the e-cigarette she bought at Lilac City Vapor exploded in her mouth, burning her face and mouth and blowing out her teeth.

Her case is one of several other similar cases filed by Washington residents alleging their e-cigarettes exploded in their face or pocket.

Law 360 notes, “The explosions are reportedly caused by the e-cigs’ lithium-ion battery, the same component responsible for spontaneously combusting hoverboards and Samsung’s exploding Note 7 smartphone, among other things.”