This case involves a plaintiff in Illinois who was injured when e-cigarette batteries in the pocket of his pants exploded. On the date of the incident in question, the plaintiff had been driving for several hours to meet a friend in another city. Throughout the entirety of the ride, the plaintiff was charging his electronic cigarette with a manufacturer-recommended car charger. About an hour after the plaintiff arrived at his destinations, he noticed that the device had suddenly become much warmer than normal. A few moments later the batteries of the electronic cigarette exploded violently, causing significant burns on the patient’s upper thigh and groin that required extensive skin grafts and plastic surgery to repair.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please discuss your knowledge of lithium ion batteries in e-cigarettes.
- 2. What might cause a battery to explode?
Expert Witness Response E-043099
I have vast experience with lithium ion batteries and thermal runaway. Its actually very similar to what happened with hover boards: The quality of the battery cells are low and the rate to which they emit energy to power the product is too high causing the power cells/batteries to heat up above 90 degrees and burst or melt down. We call this thermal runaway. I am currently working with NASA on a contractual basis on how to prevent thermal runaway in small cells. There are a number of reasons for thermal runaway to occur, but defects in the manufacturing process may be the most common.
Expert Witness Response E-042632
I have over 25 years of experience in lithium ion batteries, starting from R&D to production and supply chain and production process quality. I have conducted numerous failure analysis battery fire involving lithium ion batteries. In fact, I recently gave a deposition in a high profile Civil case involving lithium ion batteries batteries in a computer. I have also visited many lithium ion battery production factories that make lithium ion batteries for electronic cigarettes. I also have reasonable knowledge on electronic cigarettes themselves.