This case involves the unprompted explosion of an E-cigarette. A man who was walking outside in August with his E-cigarette in his back pocket began to feel a burning sensation on his leg. Suddenly, the E-cigarette exploded causing a hole in the plaintiff’s leg and severe burns to the entire left side of his leg. It was alleged that a defect in the E-cigarette’s lithium ion batteries caused the explosion and subsequent injuries.
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-071724
I have investigated battery failures and alleged battery failures for 15+ years. My background includes failure analysis of batteries while working for a major computer manufacturer, the investigation of numerous battery fire scenes, and case review of personal injuries regarding alleged battery incidents. I also sit on a newly-launched technical committee which will be developing a new standard for E-cigarette devices. E-cigarette battery cases are one of the primary areas of my practice. To date, I have reviewed approximately 35-40 such cases with a variety of circumstances and a variety of E-cigarette makes and models. If the person has the battery in their pocket and it fails, it is most likely due to an external short rather than an internal short. The battery cell is most likely marketed as a high drain cell and thus would not have the safety mechanism generally used in other applications, and it likely did not have a shutdown separator.
Expert Witness Response E-043105
I am an expert in materials science and especially lithium ion batteries. My Ph.D. dissertation was focused on safety issues regarding lithium ion batteries. I also have a National Science Foundation grant supporting my research on the charge-discharge mechanism of lithium ion batteries, which is closely related to explosions caused by batteries. Thus, I am able to speak to the components of the e-cigarette, most notably the lithium ion battery, and its associated risks. I have reviewed publications and research proposals concerning safety issues that lithium ion batteries present.