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Michigan Civil Rights & Product Liability Law Blog

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

Michigan's exoneration fund running low on money

A bill introduced into Michigan's state legislature would provide an additional $10 million for the state's compensation fund for wrongfully convicted prisoners. The fund is at risk of running out of money, despite the fact that more wrongful convictions continue to be exposed. Rep. Steve Johnson of Wayland introduced House Bill 4286 in order to provide additional funds to the account created in 2016 as part of the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act.

According to the Michigan Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act ("WICA"), former prisoners who were wrongfully convicted should receive $50,000 for every year they spent behind bars. However, officials said in early 2019 that only $1.6 million remains in the account. There are a number of claims on the fund still pending, and ex-prisoners say they are owed more than this amount. Johnson said that the law was an important step but reliable funding was necessary in order to make its provisions viable.

Ethical policing program may spread to more cities

Police departments in Michigan that are concerned about police misconduct and public dissatisfaction with law enforcement might look to a successful program in New Orleans that is making its way to Baltimore. The "Ethical Policing Is Courageous" training program, or EPIC, encourages officers to intervene when they see misconduct from one another and uses role-playing and other exercises to prepare them for situations in which they might need to act.

The image of law enforcement in New Orleans had suffered after several officers were found guilty for shooting people during Hurricane Katrina and many others abandoned the force. A federal consent decree was placed on the department in 2012 following an officer's killing of a man who was unarmed. Officials determined that a cultural change was needed that ended the silence officers would use to protect one another in cases of misconduct. As evidence of the program's success, there has been a drop in citizens' complaints. The police department also has anecdotal evidence of incidents that would have escalated to force in the past but did not because of peer intervention.

Vape pen explosion cuts carotid artery and kills man

Vape pens or e-cigarettes have become mainstream throughout Michigan, but malfunctions of the battery-operated devices can prove fatal. A recent out-of-state case illustrates the severity of injuries that defective e-cigarettes can deliver. The explosion of a vape pen caused cerebral infarction and herniation after debris dissected a 24-year-old man's carotid artery. He reportedly died in a hospital two days after the explosion.

His relatives told the media that medical staff placed the man in a medically induced coma. His X-rays showed that parts of the vape pen had lodged in his throat. His grandmother did not know why surgery was not attempted for him. A spokeswoman from the medical center could not provide a public comment due to health privacy laws.

Ex-police sergeant, 2 paramedics charged for inmate's death

A former police sergeant and two paramedic workers have been charged in the fatality of a Westland Jail inmate. The trio was bound over on misconduct in office charges on Jan. 22. Manslaughter charges that were filed against the three were dismissed after the judge found that there was insufficient evidence to support such charges.

The incident happened at the Westland Jail in March 2018. According to prosecutors, the inmate was taken into custody and then began having convulsions in his cell. He reportedly yelled for help but was ignored by the former Westland Police Department sergeant and the two paramedics.

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