Lithium Ion Batteries in Cell Phone Cause Severe Burns

Product Liability Expert WitnessThis case involves lithium ion batteries that exploded while the Plaintiff was talking on his cell phone. At the time of the incident in question the man was using his phone in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, and had used the phone without incident for several months leading up to the event. As the man held the phone close to his head the batteries exploded violently, causing disfiguring burns to his face as well as hearing damage. It was alleged that the batteries were negligently designed and / or manufactured.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please briefly describe your experience with lithium ion batteries.

Expert Witness Response E-074921

I was involved with fire investigation in 3rd party lithium batteries in cell phones in 1999 while working at Motorola. We found that the charge and discharge profiles of the 3rd party batteries were not compatible with the discharge/charge algorithms in the software of the cell phones because the battery chemistry was different than those of our 2nd party suppliers. This is common in new technology like hoover boards and e-cigs. I would need to know the exact chemistry profile of the batteries in order identify the proper charging/discharging profile and software algorithms, as well as the charger used on the batteries prior to the fire in order to identify the manufacturer and find out what charging algorithm is used and determine if it is appropriate for the battery chemistry. Likely, this was the result of an error in the charging mechanism that allowed for one or more of the battery’s cells to become overloaded.


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