San Diego

E-Cigarette Lawsuit Claims Battery Explosion Caused Third-Degree Burns

A Southern California man has filed a lawsuit after suffering second- and third-degree burns when an e-cigarette battery allegedly exploded in his pocket.

"All of the sudden I heard this noise and felt heat — it was like a road flare went up in my pocket," said Spencer Beck, 26, an Orange County resident. "I had no idea that this could happen."

The incident happened about a month ago while Beck was at a friend's apartment. Beck said he didn't realize at first how seriously he'd been hurt. 

He suffered second- and third-degree burns and required two surgeries and skin grafts. Beck spent 11 days at the hospital and said doctors told him his leg will take two years to heal.

Beck is suing the two stores in Orange and San Diego counties where he bought the battery and the charger.

His is one of 35 e-cigarette cases his Beverly Hills attorney, Greg Bentley, has taken on since last fall. NBC4 has reported on three cases of alleged e-cigarettes exploding in people's faces.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, "The shape and construction of e-cigarettes can make them more likely than other products with lithium-ion batteries to behave ike 'flaming rockets' when a battery fails."

Bentley said the problem is that some of the e-cigarette batteries are unregulated, but nonetheless coming into the country by the millions.

"This is an unregulated industry that is rushing to put a cheaper, unsafe product on the market at the expense of public safety," Bentley said.

Bentley is calling for warning labels on batteries and chargers. Beck said that there were no such labels on the device he said exploded in his pocket.

"I did it to quit smoking and then I got hooked on it, and I never knew anything like this could happen," Beck said.

NBC4 reached out to the stores targeted in the lawsuit, which did not immediately comment.  

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