A former Navy SEAL has filed suit against an e-cigarette company after the battery in his vaporizer exploded in his pants pocket, possibly leaving him with permanent damage to his right thigh.
Matthew Bonestele filed the suit in Texas against LG Chem America, Inc. and Great Vapes, LLC., claiming the e-cigarette battery was defectively designed and manufactured. The e-cigarette was distributed by Lightfire Group, LLC. and sold to Bonestele by Great Vapes, LLC.
The incident happened on April 21, 2016, when Bonestele's LG Chem HG2 18650 battery apparently exploded, causing third degree burns on — and severely lacerating — most of his right thigh.
"It exploded in his pocket, caused his pants to catch fire burning his entire right leg," Bonestele's attorney, Randy Sorrels, said. "There’s a pretty big hole in his upper thigh."
“He’s still suffering pretty significant injury,” Sorrels told KTSA News, adding that “It’s worse than anything he ever experienced while in the military or serving with the SEALS.
This is also not the first time a veteran has been injured from exploding e-cigarette batteries. Tim Jensen, an Army veteran from Alabama, who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, also had an e-cigarette battery explode in his right pocket in 2016. He suffered second and third degree burns to his hands and legs, and had to receive 60 staples and skin grafts.
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"The reality is that these batteries are small sticks of dynamite and the e-cigarette industry needs to make wholesale changes to ensure the safety of all those who use these batteries," Sorrels said in a statement.
The Navy banned e-cigarettes from its vessels on April 14 after several reports emerged of exploding devices injuring sailors. The American Vaping Association criticized the Navy's decision.
"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, like cellphones or laptops," Gregory Conley, president of the association, said in an email to The Virginian-Pilot.
"It is a shame that the Navy made this move without consulting active duty personnel or consumer advocates, as there are many ways this issue could have been addressed without resorting to a blanket prohibition that will only serve to discourage current tobacco users from quitting."
Here's a video of an e-cigarette exploding in a man's pocket in France: