Toxic Torts and Product Liability FAQs
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Why do e-cigarettes explode?
There are a variety of reasons. The irony is that electronic cigarettes were invented as a potentially safer way for smokers to get the nicotine they crave. It hasn’t quite worked out that way.
Since e-cigarettes were introduced in 2007, the market for these devices—also known as vape pens—has grown to nearly $2 billion a year, with over 2.5 million users in the United States. During the same period, though, there were a steady stream of news reports about e-cigarette fires and explosions. Those events have hurt property and people, including incidents of:
- Scorched and burned furniture
- House fires
- Fires set on public buses, airplanes, and private vehicles
- Facial burns and scarring
- Tongue damage
- Lost teeth
- Chemical burns
- Burns on the thighs, hands, groin, or other parts of the body when a vape pen explodes in a pocket
The Battery Is the Problem
An e-cigarette functioning properly doesn't produce flame, fire, or smoldering ash. The device uses a miniature battery to vaporize a water-based liquid, producing steam rather than smoke. The user then inhales this steam.
Small, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are the industry standard for these devices. There's not a legal requirement that a nationally-recognized testing laboratory approve the battery or other components of the e-cigarette. Many manufacturers cut costs by failing to submit e-cigarettes for safety testing.
In a 2014 study of e-cigarette fire and explosion risks, the U.S. Fire Administration found that defective battery incidents were uncommon. Most of the events happened when the battery was being charged, but about 20 percent occurred when the e-cigarette was in use or simply being carried by someone. In some cases, the cause of battery failure seems to be related to incompatible USB ports when charging the battery.
However, the U.S. Fire Administration is careful to note that lithium-ion batteries contain flammable or combustible liquids, and there's a history of these batteries failing in other electronic devices. When an electronic cigarette battery fails, its unique cylinder shape can propel the device across the room “like a bullet or small rocket.”
Dozens of other e-cigarette fire and explosion events have been reported since the U.S. Fire Administration study was completed. An April 2017 survey of burn centers across the United States found at least 300 incidents that required hospitalization.
Product Liability Claims for E-Cigarette Injuries
A manufacturer offering a product for sale has an obligation to see that it doesn't hurt people in the course of normal use. The manufacturer can be held legally liable:
- If a product is designed improperly.
- If the process for manufacturing and inspecting the product sends a defective item to market.
- If the manufacturer fails to warn consumers of particular dangers associated with the product, or fails to include complete instructions for consumers using the product.
Because of the high number of injuries caused by e-cigarette lithium-ion batteries, many consumers have filed lawsuits against vape pen manufacturers. Cases have cited all three of the reasons listed above for why the manufacturers should be held responsible for the resulting injuries. Plaintiffs have demanded compensation for losses such as:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
If you were injured by a defective e-cigarette or battery, find out your legal rights as soon as possible. There's a time limit for filing claims for personal injuries caused by defective devices. Use the contact information on this page to reach the experienced product liability lawyers at Lattof & Lattof. Your initial consultation with our legal staff is absolutely free of charge.
The attorneys at Lattof & Lattof maintain a nationwide practice for product liability claims. This means we can work with you even if you live far away from our home office in Alabama.
Is there a link between Roundup® weed killer and cancer?
The villain here—if there is one—is a chemical called glyphosate. Glyphosate is a powerful herbicide that can kill both grasses and broadleaf plants. Since glyphosate was introduced in 1974, it's become one of the most important commercial herbicides on the market. Today, more than 700 products contain some version of the chemical, including Roundup weed killer.
Roundup was the first product with glyphosate to be marketed. It's one of the most important products sold by Monsanto Company, a giant agribusiness conglomerate based in Missouri. Roundup is widely used to control weeds on all levels of production, from commercial farms and municipal landscaping to home vegetable gardens and lawns. Roundup and other glyphosate products represent about 10 percent of Monsanto’s revenue, as Roundup is the second most widely used lawn and garden weed killer in the United States.
Glyphosate has become especially controversial recently. In 2016, scientific tests detected the weed killer in a wide variety of popular foods, including cookies, crackers, cold cereals, and chips. Glyphosate has also been found in honey, soy sauce, flour, and human breast milk. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not regularly tested for glyphosate residues in produce or human tissue.
The Health Risks From Glyphosate and Roundup
Initially, investigators thought that there were only minor risks from pure glyphosate. Contact with the chemical may cause skin, eye, nose, or throat irritation. Swallowing glyphosate can cause nausea and vomiting, and there have been deaths due to deliberate ingestion of the weed killer.
However, Roundup contains other ingredients that help glyphosate enter plants. Those extra ingredients are trade secrets, but researchers believe they also make Roundup more dangerous to human health. Follow-up assessments call into question the safety of glyphosate itself. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
In June 2017, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment announced that glyphosate would be added to the state’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer. Implementing that decision was delayed because of court challenges by Monsanto but became effective in July 2017.
The EPA announced plans to convene a panel of scientific advisors to study the question of whether Roundup causes cancer. However, the October 2016 meeting was canceled and hasn't been rescheduled.
Today, a growing number of lawsuits claim Roundup causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). This is a group of about 60 cancers that develop from lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. While the cancer originates in the blood, it may develop in any part of the body. The varieties of NHL seem to have little in common other than their origin in the bloodstream.
Common symptoms for non-Hodgkin lymphoma include:
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Fever and chills
- Hard lumps in the armpit, neck, or groin
- Night sweats
- Pain in the chest or bones
- Shortness of breath or cough
- Weight loss
Treatment for NHL depends heavily on the specific subtype of cancer, the type of lymphocyte that was its source, and how aggressively it's spreading.
Do You Need Help From a Toxic Tort Attorney?
The attorneys at Lattof & Lattof are based in Mobile, Alabama, but we provide legal counsel for toxic tort cases across the United States. At this time, we are accepting Roundup-related medical claims from all 50 states. If you were exposed to Roundup and later were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma or any other cancer, you may be eligible for substantial compensation.
Similarly, if you have a relative who died from cancer after exposure to Roundup, your family may be able to hold Monsanto responsible for marketing a toxic product.
We offer free consultations to discuss your case and decide whether you have a valid claim. To speak with one of our lawyers, use the contact information on this page.