By JoNel Aleccia
Seattle Times health reporter
Four Northwest residents who claim they were hurt when e-cigarettes caught fire or exploded said Thursday theyâ€™ll sue the manufacturers and sellers of the popular vaping devices. The alleged victims, from Washington and Oregon, suffered severe burns and other injuries, including damage that required skin and bone grafts.
They held a news conference with their lawyer, James S. Rogers, of Seattle, who has joined with Gregory Bentley, an Irvine, Calif., lawyer who represents dozens of people who claim theyâ€™ve been harmed when the lithium-ion batteries in defective devices misfired. A woman in Riverside, Calif., was awarded nearly $1.9 million by a jury last year after she sued the manufacturer, wholesaler and the store where she bought an e-cigarette device that burned her, leaving permanent scars.
â€œThese batteries are a ticking time bomb and theyâ€™re causing harm all over the country,â€ Bentley told reporters.
The lawsuits claim the devices were defective and violated the Washington Product Liability Act. Those who planned to file lawsuits Thursday included Olaf Eriksen, 40, of Seattle, who was hurt April 11, when an e-cigarette device exploded in his pants pocket, according to a complaint. He planned to sue EXC LLC, a company that does business as EcigExpress in Seattle, plus 100 unnamed defendants, in King County Superior Court.
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