PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Four lawsuits were filed locally on Thursday, for injuries related to electronic cigarettes. The vaping devices can explode and cause serious burns.
They were supposed to be an alternative to smoking tobacco. Now e-cigarettes have become especially popular among high school students. Two of the suits filed today are on behalf of minors who were injured. A third victim from Berlin N.J. says he had no idea vaping could be so dangerous.
It’s painful, but Gregory Burdash feels lucky to be able to walk with his wife. He has 3rd degree burns on his leg from an e-cigarette battery that exploded in the pocket of his pants. “I looked down I was on fire. The battery pin-balled down my leg. It burned a hole through my pant leg and escaped and that’s when the real searing pain started,” Gregory says.
The FDA has documented 66 e-cig explosions, with a growing number of injuries.
Attorney Greg Bentley says, “the cigarette industry, without regulations and protocol in place, has been operating like the wild west. That is unacceptable and needs to change.”
Bentley is representing Burdash and three others in lawsuits filed in New Jersey and Pennsylvania related to injuries caused by electronic cigarettes.
Most of the e-cig fires are linked to their lithium- ion batteries. There are issues with overcharging, manufacturing defects and punctures that cause overheating and explosions.
“It’s kind of like if people are doing it, it’s Russian roulette right now,” says Stacey Burdash, Gregory’s wife. She says her husband turned to vaping with e-cigarettes to help him quit smoking.
Now, two months after the battery exploded, he’s still bleeding from the burns. Gregory says, “I will be required to have skin grafts. My journey isn’t over. I want people to be aware of the dangers of vaping.”
The lawsuits are being filed against stores where the devices were purchased. The FDA started regulating e-cigarettes in May and is reviewing health impacts, a growing number of doctors say they should be banned.