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Memphis Man Suffers Broken Neck from Explosion of E-Cigarette

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Memphis, TNIt’s an emerging issue from a relatively new device meant to bring the art, or habit, of smoking into the twenty-first century. The e-cigarette has captured the fancy of millennials having embraced “vaping,” or inhaling vapor as a preferred alternative to actual smoke. While long-term health benefits and risks associated with the e-cigarette are not known, it is generally held that vaping carries less risk than inhaling smoke. Or does it? That’s the question a young man is asking after an e-cigarette exploded in his face this past fall, causing a serious neck injury.

According to a report from CBS News (11/24/15), a 29-year-old man from Memphis suffered a broken neck, facial fractures, shattered teeth and burns to his mouth when the e-cigarette he was using exploded. The device was manufactured by Kangertech, according to the report.

It is not known if the victim, identified in the report as 29-year-old Cordero Caples, would be pursuing neck injury compensation from the manufacturer for his injuries. However, back and neck injury tends to carry serious long-term health implications given the complexity of the neck, spine and the central nervous system. Many victims have suffered relatively minor neck and back injuries, only to be plagued by lasting health problems that dog them for years, if not decades after the fact.

According to the report, Caples was hospitalized in Colorado Springs with serious injuries. The man’s sister, in comments to WMC-TV in Memphis, described the situation as “heartbreaking.” “Any sudden move can cause him to be in a paralyzed state, and that is something we don’t want,” Colessia Porter told reporters at the time. “[Cordero is] going to need 24-hour care for a while and constant monitoring from family and friends and loved ones.”

The neck and back injury victim was expected to require several surgical procedures.

The report went on to explain that while explosions inherent with e-cigarettes are rare, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggested at the time that they were aware of at least 25 such failures of e-cigarettes between 2009 and 2014. “The shape and construction of e-cigarettes can make them more likely than other products with lithium-ion batteries to behave like ‘flaming rockets when a battery fails,’” the agency warned in a 2014 report. Of the 25 incidents in the FEMA database, nine people suffered injuries, with two sustaining serious burns.

One such incident occurred in Bakersfield, California, when a 23-year-old man in the throes of vaping with an e-cigarette lost part of his left index finger and suffered damage to his mouth following an explosion. The victim, Vicente Garza, told media in Los Angeles that the e-cigarette “exploded in my face,” adding that he never thought such a thing was even possible. The rechargeable lithium batteries used to power the e-cigarettes are thought to be suspect, or so it is alleged in various lawsuits.

While most have suffered burns and related injuries, Caples is unique in that he suffered a broken neck, together with his other injuries. The explosion occurred at his place of employment, according to the media report.

While it is not known if Caples would be filing a neck injury compensation claim for his injuries, other victims have filed lawsuits - and attorneys are expecting more cases, given the explosive growth of an e-cigarette industry that is worth millions and yet, is largely unregulated. While back and neck injury most often happens within the context of slips and falls, and car accidents, such injuries can emerge from a wide range of causes. The force of an explosion, originating close to the face, that can forcefully snap the head back, injuring the neck…

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