William and Kathleen Barrese filed a lawsuit William Barrese et al v. Gorilla Vapes LG Chem Ltd., Case No. MID L001414-17, Superior Court of New Jersey, Middlesex County against Gorilla Vapes, a New Jersey e-cigarette and e-liquids supplier, in Middlesex County Superior Court in March 2017, claiming that an e-cigarette battery exploded in William Berrese's pants pocket while he was at work, engulfing his leg in flames.
E-cigarettes are handheld devices that use lithium-ion batteries and heat to vaporize a flavored liquid that typically contains nicotine and other ingredients. The device produces an aerosol that's inhaled into the lungs.
Many e-cigarette manufacturers market vaping devices as being a safer alternative for cigarette smokers. However, consumers have reported numerous e-cigarette products as being allegedly defective or dangerous. Barrese claims in his lawsuit that his e-cigarette battery exploded without warning in his pocket.
"William Barrese quickly realized that his leg was covered in black residue and his skin was severely charred," according to the lawsuit. "The explosion resulted in extensive burns on his lower extremity."
Barrese's alleged e-cig explosion was "not a novel occurrence," according to the petition, which referenced additional consumer injuries, including a New Jersey man who allegedly suffered second degree burns to his arm and face as a result of an e-cigarette explosion and a separate incident involving a Camden County woman.
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Twenty-five separate incidents of explosion and fire involving an e-cigarette were reported in the US media between 2009 and August 2014, according to a 2014 report by issued by the US Fire Administration.
E-cigarettes with lithium-ion batteries can behave like "flaming rockets" when a battery fails, according to the same report.
"Complaints of injury caused by e-cigarettes continue to rise as the devices become more popular," states Barrese's complaint.
"These products continue to be placed into the stream of commerce despite being untested and unsafe. E-cigarettes will continue to cause these types of injuries unless and until those placing them in the stream of commerce are held accountable," according to the lawsuit.