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4 Injured N.J. Vapers Sue E-cigarette Retailers for Selling Exploding Devices

Greg Bentley of Bentley & More LLP partners with Stark & Stark Attorneys at Law to bring law suits against e-cigarette manufactures and distributors on behalf of 4 injured NJ vapers injured by exploding devices. 

Overview of NJ.com Article

by Robert Sciarrino | NJ Advance Media

Greg Bentley of Bentley & More LLP partners with Stark & Stark Attorneys at Law to bring law suits against e-cigarette manufactures and distributors on behalf of 4 injured NJ vapers injured by exploding devices. 

PLAINSBORO — Four New Jersey residents — including two teenagers — who suffered third-degree burns when their e-cigarette batteries ignited “like a rocket” are suing the shops that sold the “defective” devices, their attorneys announced Thursday.

The manufacturers of the lithium ion batteries that power the vaping devices are also the targets of the litigation, although the attorneys acknowledged it would be tougher to hold them accountable. The batteries are made in China.

But with the burgeoning $10 billion e-cigarette industry operating without meaningful oversight yet by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, going after the retailers is the only way to draw attention to these dangerous devices, said Gregory Bentley, an Irvine, Calif. attorney who is teaming up with the personal injury firm Stark & Stark in Lawrenceville.

The lawsuit alleges the manufacturers, the distributors and the sellers should be liable because they should have known the cylinder batteries “can be shot out like a bullet or a rocket” when they malfunction, the lawsuits say.

“By filing these lawsuits, our goal is to bring attention to the problem, so the industry knows they have to do something,” said Bentley, who last year won a $1.9 million judgment against a retailer, a distributor and a wholesale company. 

“My office has looked at 130 cases since the verdict last year,” Bentley said during a press conference at the Westin hotel in Princeton Forrestal Village. “There is no agency that is keeping track of this to see this is truly a hazard.”

According to the lawsuits filed in state Superior Court:

* Gregory and Stacey L. Burdash of Berlin sued Mode E. Vape Lounge, also in Berlin, which sold the e-cigarette device, and Kanger Tech, the Chinese company which manufactured the battery and charger.

Burdash, 40, said the battery exploded in his pants pocket on Sept. 29, setting his leg on fire and causing third-degree burns to 20 percent of his body. He has not been able to work, and will need skin graft surgery, attorney Dominic Sanginiti Jr. said.

“I have had incredible pain since then. I have not been able to return to work, and as the sole breadwinner in the family, it hurts you mentally and physically,” Burdash said. “I want people to be aware of the dangers of vaping and how harmful this can be. I want to this to be made safer for the future.”

A man reached at the Mode E. Vape Lounge who identified himself as an owner said he was aware of the lawsuit and deferred comment to his partner, who did not return a phone call.

* William D. Gant of Cumberland County has already filed suit in Atlantic County against Vortex Vapor in Galloway, which sold him the e-cigarette battery that exploded in his pants on March 18, 2015. The explosion “caused a scathing hot mixture of shrapnel and battery acid that burned through his pants, thigh, right shoe and onto his foot,” according to the lawsuit. He suffered third-degree burns.

“His foot will require a skin graft,” Sanginiti said. “He has been hospitalized twice. He has difficulty putting on shoes.”

Read more on NJ.com