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Vaping Might Be Deadly In Ways You Don’t Expect

On May 5, 2018, in St. Petersburg (the one in Florida), firefighters were called in to put out a house fire. Once they put out the fire, they found a 38-year-old man, Tallmadge D’Elia, inside. He was dead, but not from the flames: the autopsy has discovered that he was using a vape pen when it exploded, and two pieces of it entered his brain and killed him.

The Vaping Craze

If you haven’t been keeping up with recent trends, you might not know what a “vape pen” even is. The “vape” refers to “vapor,” and vaping or “e-cigarettes” is a new alternative to smoking tobacco that first entered the market in 2007. The way they work is very simple: you pour a liquid into a reservoir, a liquid with flavorings and nicotine (or some other active ingredient), and then you suck on an opening that takes the liquid past a battery that boils it so it enters your lungs as a vapor.

The idea is that vapor is healthier to breathe than smoke, which is true. Smoke from any source includes carcinogens and carbon monoxide, and while short-term exposure is harmless you can’t say the same about years of smoking cigarettes. Water vapor, on the other hand, is as harmless as sitting in a sauna or standing outside on a humid day, plus it doesn’t cause dangerous second-hand smoke.

However, the liquid used in vaping pens isn’t just water. Nicotine is an addictive substance no matter how you take it, so while the drug is nowhere near as dangerous alone as it is in cigarettes, it does lead to dependence issues and is an avoidable drain on your wallet. More importantly, the other ingredients in vaping liquids aren’t regulated well, so they could prove dangerous in their own right.

The Dangers Of A Fad

Because vaping is a growing fad, a lot of entrepreneurs and companies are getting a taste by opening shops that sell vaping liquids, offering DIY kits and instructions online, or creating vape pens and e-cigarettes. The simple design of vaping devices means that they’re easy to make, but as the unfortunate resident in St. Pete found out, they aren’t foolproof.

The most likely explanation for the accident is that the battery overheated and exploded, much like the Samsung phones that tended to catch fire back in 2016. The vape pen was made by a company called Smok-E Mountain, based in the Philippines, and while most such devices have built-in batteries and voltage regulators, these pens let you swap in new batteries.

A poorly made lithium-ion battery can be a fire hazard no matter what device it’s in, but vape pens are a unique problem because they need the battery to run hot to work and you need to bring it close to your face to use it. And since not every vaping device meets the same safety standards, what happened in a St. Pete home may happen again.

As it stands, the survivors of Mr. D’Elia may be able to bring a case against both the Smok-E Mountain company for making a device that has no way to safely regulate its battery and the battery manufacturer for creating a faulty product. Even without any firm regulations in place, products sold in the United States have an obligation to be safe to use during normal operation, and by all current indications Mr. D’Elia was using both the vape pen and its battery the way they were intended.

If you live in Florida and you suffer a personal injury, you should contact the offices of , Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, and Walsh. Our lawyers have years of experience dealing with insurance companies and companies that don’t like to admit when they’re wrong, and with us working for you we can get you the just compensation you deserve.

Michael J. Babboni's wide-ranging legal career is based on the strong belief that everyone should be treated fairly and have access to effective legal help. Michael began putting his beliefs in action by helping the people of St. Petersburg Florida get what they are owed in civil trials fighting to protect families by making corporations pay, and honor their obligations.

Vaping Might Be Deadly In Ways You Don’t Expect

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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