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Michigan Civil Rights & Product Liability Law Blog

E-cigarette batteries cause explosions, some of them fatal

Certain electronic cigarettes typically use what is called a 18650 lithium ion battery. Slightly larger than a AA battery, this lithium-ion battery has a stainless steel cover that can withstand the force of outdoor power equipment. Thus, it is meant more for power tools than for devices that users put in their mouths. Michigan residents should know that these batteries have led to hundreds of e-cigarette explosions.

According to a study from George Mason University, e-cigarette explosions result in more than 2,000 emergency department visits every year in the U.S. In most of these cases, users would incur leg, arm or hand burns. The majority are burned by e-cigarettes that are in their pants pockets.

Wrongfully convicted man released after 17 years

Many individuals, including several Michigan residents, have been wrongfully convicted on the basis of eyewitness identification evidence. This was the case for a 42-year-old New Orleans man who was released on June 27 after serving 17 years for an armed robbery he did not commit. A reexamination of fingerprint evidence led to his release.

The man had been sentenced to 49 years in prison on charges that he robbed a Burger King. One key piece of evidence was that of an employee, who misidentified the man two months after the robbery. New technology allowed a reanalysis of a cup the perpetrator held before the incident and found that the fingerprints did not belong to the man. Later, when the prints were matched against a database, they were found to be those of a 54-year-old man who had been convicted for several similar robberies.

Is your teen at risk of burns or injuries from a vape pen?

As a parent of a teenager, you've probably already had the talk about cigarettes and chewing tobacco with your kid. Alcohol, dangerous driving, dating, skipping school and drugs have likely also come up. However, even the most diligent and well-intentioned parents may overlook one of the most common forms of substance abuse in teenagers today.

Vape pens or e-cigarettes weren't really around when today's parents were teenagers, but they have become a preferred method of nicotine delivery for most underage users. Unfortunately, some of these units have exploded and injured their users.

E-cigarette explosions injure thousands

E-cigarettes are very popular in Michigan and elsewhere, but they can also be extremely hazardous. Over the past decade, thousands of e-cigarette mods and/or batteries have suddenly exploded while someone was using them or storing them in their pockets, causing severe burns, shattered teeth and broken bones.

For example, a case study recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine describes an incident involving a 17-year-old boy who suffered a broken jaw, broken teeth and soft-tissue injuries when his e-cigarette exploded in his face. He required extensive reconstructive surgery to repair the damage and still needs to get dental implants to replace his missing teeth. A doctor who treated the boy said that consumers need to understand how dangerous the devices can be.

E-cigarettes can cause fatal injuries if they explode

E-cigarettes have long posed issues for the public. One of the most significant problems has been the risk of the lithium batteries exploding. While this has been a known defect for some time, there are still explosions happening after several years of concerns.

In February, a man was killed when an e-cigarette blew up in his face. The explosion lacerated a major artery in his neck, which led to his death. Another man suffered an e-cigarette burn and was left disfigured when the explosion from his e-cigarette blew away part of his face as well as breaking several of his teeth.

Michigan authorities named in lawsuit

Two separate lawsuits against the Detroit Police Department claim that an officer engaged in illegal conduct that was motivated by race. In one case, a woman claims that the police officer broke her arm in May 2018. In the other, that same officer was seen making fun of a woman after her car was seized.

The first case involved a woman who called police after an incident involving the girlfriend of her child's father. She claims that she was forced to place her hands behind her back suddenly while holding her son. Another officer took the child prior to the woman being shoved against a vehicle. The woman alleges that her arm was then bent in an unnatural fashion resulting in the injury.

E-cigarette explosion injures man's face and hands

Michigan residents are probably aware that there are risks involved in the use of e-cigarettes. These devices, also known as vape pens, operate on a lithium battery and are used to vaporize nicotine for inhaling. There are stores that allow customers to "create a cig," getting the right battery, accessories and other items that go into making an e-cigarette kit.

A 25-year-old man in Cordova, Tennessee, went to one of these stores and purchased an e-cigarette. One day back in 2018, the man was smoking the e-cigarette before work when the battery in the device reportedly exploded in his face. The explosion caused severe burns to his mouth, face and hands. It also caused part of his cheek to be torn out and several fractured teeth.

Relief for victims of police misconduct

Law enforcement officers in Michigan are granted broad powers to perform their duties. They are limited, though, by the U.S. Constitution and other laws. When police officers violate the rights of citizens, those citizens may be able to turn to state or federal laws for recourse. Among the primary purposes of civil rights regulations is the protection of citizens from abuse by government officials. Recovery for victims of police misconduct often includes compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorneys' fees.

Police officers are generally immune from lawsuits related to the performance of their duties unless they have engaged in unreasonable willful conduct. Liability will not be established in cases where officers have merely failed to exercise due care, meaning negligence is not enough in most cases. The civil rights law most often relied upon by victims of misconduct is Section 1983 of Title 42 of the U.S. Code. It was originally part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871.

Woman wrongly convicted for child abuse shares her story

The first woman in Michigan to be exonerated and released following a wrongful conviction has told her story at the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School's Auburn Hills campus. In 2003, she was going through the process to adopt her infant nephew when she took him to the emergency room because he was not eating and was bleeding in his brain.

The woman did not know that she was under suspicion for child abuse when she was questioned by law enforcement several days later and did not realize that she might need an attorney. In February 2004, she was charged with first degree child abuse, and in 2005 she was convicted. The prosecution had successfully argued that the baby was injured by shaken baby syndrome, and she was sentenced to a prison term of 10 to 15 years.

5 steps to avoid an e-cigarette explosion

It's a sad reality that many vape devices simply aren't safe. However, most devices can be kept safer by following the manufacturer's directions and by knowing a few helpful tips for using vapes safely.

Vaping devices may malfunction more often in certain situations. These include when the e-cigarette:

  • Gets wet
  • Is kept in a pocket
  • Is overcharged or charged incorrectly
  • Has exposed batteries that are in contact with metal
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