YESTERDAY I CAUTIONED manufacturers AND merchants to perform "due diligence" on their products.
Today (March 12, 2015) Advisen FPN has a headline reading Smokin’ hot: Man claims e-cig batteries sent sparks ‘shooting from his crotch area’
The man is suing the store that sold the batteries. There was no mention in the article that the batteries' manufacturer also was named in the suit. (If the manufacturer is an off-shore operation - likely - then the importer should be contacting a defense counsel about now.) The battery manufacturer and production location were omitted from the news article.
According to the article in the Arlington (TX) Star-Telegram, the store had a warning posted on its wall stating that batteries not in use should be stored in their protective box. The batteries that exploded in the man's trousers were loose in a pocket. (Were they sold lose? A question for the courts.)
Battery safety is an issue that has found it's way to the Internet in the e-cigarette forum blog where the e-cigs are euphemistically called Advanced Personal Vaporizers or "APVs."
The article notes that battery malfunctions are known within the fire and safety field citing a report from the U.S. Fire Administration in October discussed the dangers associated with e-cigarette fires and explosions. It quoted media reports citing at least 25 incidents involving e-cigarette batteries from 2009 to 2014.
Media reports generally characterized those incidents as explosions accompanied by a loud noise, a flash, smoke, flames, and the vigorous ejection of the battery and other parts.
Eighty percent of the incidents reportedly occurred while the batteries were being charged. A variety of charging sources were reported, including laptop, automobile and desktop USB ports.
Another on-line site, ecigarette Reviewed suggests that the e-cig equivalent of the old "roll your own" is where the greatest danger lies. Under the heading Minimizing the Risk of E-Cig Mod Explosions the site tells readers:
The battery you use ceases to be provided with the device itself; you have to find one yourself. But lithium-based batteries, as we discussed earlier in the series, can all fail and in some cases it is catastrophic. There have been reports of bottle-rocket and pipe bomb-style explosions with mods, but the problem extends to all other lithium-dependent consumer products such as cell phones and laptops too.
Understanding the process of “thermal runaway” and what you can do to minimize the risk of e-cigarette mod explosions is essential for all vapors venturing into APV (Advanced Personal Vaporizer) territory.
While the majority of e-cigarette batteries are from China, batteries also are manufactured by many other countries, including the U.S. and Canada. A comprehensive list of points or origin is available on the Alibaba.com site. The batteries' manufacturer was not identified in the Star-Telegram article.
Among the questions the court probably will hear are
- Did the merchant do any research on the product's safety history?
- Was the warning sign to keep batteries in a box prominently displayed?
- Was the customer warned about potential dangers?
- Was any sampling done by the merchant or did the merchant have evidence that sampling was done at any point from the manufacture of the battery to the time it was sold?
- Did the customer keep the batteries in a battery box?
- How much responsibility do each of the players have - the merchant, the customer?