Chain | Cohn | Stiles represents Bakersfield residents in exploding e-cigarette cases

November 25, 2015 | 9:41 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles is representing three Bakersfield residents who suffered major burn injuries when electronic cigarettes, or “vapes,” they were using failed and exploded spontaneously.

Roy Iversen, Vicente Garza and Greg Phillips were each severely burned injured when the e-cigarettes they purchased in local shops suddenly exploded. The battery exploded while in the pants pockets of Iversen and Phillips, and Garza’s exploded in his face as he used it.

“Many consumers don’t know or are unaware of the fact that e-cigarettes and ‘vapes’ that are commonly sold in our community have the potential of exploding during use, or spontaneously catching fire,” said Matthew Clark, attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “These items are being marketed and sold without regulation oftentimes to young people in our community who have no idea that the ‘vape’ they’re carrying in their pocket, or e-cigarette they’re putting up to their mouths, can explode and catch fire. As you can imagine, as people are using these devices right next to their faces or carrying them on their person when they catastrophically malfunction, the injuries can be severe and life-changing.”

According to the American Lung Association, electronic cigarette use among young people surpassed traditional cigarette use in 2015 for the first time. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates the sale and marketing of traditional cigarettes, but does not have authority over e-cigarettes. Additionally, the e-cigarette industry continues to operate with little oversight as manufacturers and sellers rake in billions of dollars.

And now, reports of e-cigarettes exploding when used and causing fires and major injuries are making headlines across the nation. Chain | Cohn | Stiles, on behalf of the victims, has filed complaints against the sellers and manufacturers of e-cigarettes.

Attorneys Matthew Clark and Neil Gehlawat from Chain | Cohn | Stiles – accompanied by a local victim – hosted a press conference recently to discuss the cases. Attorney Gregory L. Bentley held a press conference for Los Angeles area media related to these cases as well. To see complete coverage of these cases, see the “media coverage” section below.

Several of the victims described that they began using e-cigarettes in an effort to quit smoking, and believing they were safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. Instead, they said, they caused more harm.

  • Garza was using the e-cigarette in October in his bathroom when it exploded in his mouth and caused severe injuries to his mouth, tongue and finger. His left index finger was amputated to the first knuckle as a result of the explosion. He also had surgery on his tongue immediately after the explosion, and was hospitalized for seven days. Luxor Café Vape Lounge, Fame Vape and manufacturer Flawless Vapes and Supplies LLC are named as defendants.
  • Phillips suffered second-degree burns over most of his left leg September, which required two skin graft surgeries, after the vape exploded in his pants pocket. Cigarette World is named as a defendant.
  • Iversen was a passenger in a car in November when the device exploded in his pocket. He, too, suffered severe left thigh burns, is unable to work, and uses a cane to walk.

The lawsuits state that e-cigarettes and their components, including lithium ion batteries and chargers, are unsafe and that the businesses in the supply chains failed to properly warn of the defects.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is working with attorney Gregory L. Bentley of the Claremont area on these cases.

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If you or someone you know has been injured while using an e-cigarette or vape, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com and fill out a contact form.

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