Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Former Navy Seal Seeks More than $1 Million After E-Cigarette Explodes in His Pocket

Posted by Charles Gilman | May 08, 2017 | 0 Comments

As of late, there has been controversy surrounding the use of e-cigarettes and the potential danger they create for users and those around them. E-cigarettes, also known as electronic nicotine delivery systems, are handheld devices that turn nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals into inhalable vapor rather than smoke. Many people consider vaping a safer alternative to smoking conventional cigarettes, although research on whether this option is safer or not remains inconclusive. A Dallas navy veteran's lawsuit has stirred conversation regarding another aspect of their safety. He claims that the defective battery used to power his electronic cigarette caused him severe burn injuries.

According to Bonestele's lawsuit, he was lounging around at his home in Fort Worth, Texas last year when the e-cigarette LG Chem battery suddenly detonated in his pocket. The eruption caused third degree burns on his entire right leg and severely lacerated most of his upper thigh, where his attorney's claim there's a “pretty big hole.” Bonestele has had to undergo a skin graft procedure, where surgeons took the skin from other parts of his body to replace the damaged skin on his leg. Doctors have declared that even when fully healed, the man will always experience extreme sensitivity in the affected area.

Matthew Bonestele filed the lawsuit at this time last year. The suit lists every involved party in the device's delivery process as a defendant, including e-cigarette retailer Great Vapes, distributor Lightfire Group and manufacturer LG Chem America, Inc. The suit is just now moving forward due to Bonestele dropping two defendants from the case. However, it is still relatively extensive. His attorney, Randy Sorrels, released a statement on his client's behalf to the public.

“Mr. Bonestele suffered an injury that he could never have imagined in civilian life,” Sorrels said. “The reality is that these batteries are small sticks of dynamite and the e-cigarette industry needs to make wholesale changes to insure the safety of all those who use these batteries. Further, the danger is not just limited to the user, but also to everyone that is near the user - including those in the same house who could be injured of killed by a resulting fire.”

Court documents allege that the battery was defectively designed and manufactured, and despite this happening before to other users, the cigarette had no sufficient warnings to alert users of potential hazards. In fact, the explosions are happening so often, the Navy, along with several airlines have decided to ban e-cigarettes altogether. The American Vaping Association has been very critical about the decisions of these industries, claiming that “when used and charged properly, vapor products pose no more of a fire risk than any other product that is powered by lithium-ion batteries.”

So far, only one defendant, the Lightfire Group, has commented on Bonestele's lawsuit. The Florida group has denied any wrongdoing on their behalf by claiming that the veteran may have been using the device wrong. They released a statement arguing that Bonestele “may have negligently handled, utilized, or transported the product at issue.”

About the Author

Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.

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