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Exploding vaping device causes leg burns: $1.63 million verdict

Exploding vaping device causes leg burns: $1.63 million verdict

Action: Product liability

Injuries alleged: Third- and second-degree burns to thigh and calf

Case name: Weldon Moore v. Richmen Enterprises LLC d/b/a Darth Vapor, Joyetech, USA Inc. and Midwest Goods Inc.

Court/case no.: General Court of Justice, New Hanover County, Superior Court Division; No. 20-CVS-3997

Jury and/or judge: Judge G. Frank Jones (jury verdict)

Amount: $1.63 million

Date: March 22, 2023

Most helpful experts: David Rondinone of Berkeley, Calif., (engineer) and Stuart Statler of Mooresville (consumer product safety)

Attorneys: F. Davis Poisson, III of Poisson, Poisson & Bower, Raleigh, and Chris Moore of Richardson Thomas, Florence, S.C. (for the plaintiff); Andy Santaniello of Pope, Aylward, Sweeney and Santaniello, Charlotte, for Richmen Enterprises; Tori S. Levine of Bowman and Brooke, Dallas, Texas, and Elizabeth H. Bennett of Hedrick, Gardner, Kincheloe and Garofalo, Wilmington, for Midwest Goods Inc. (for the defense)

The plaintiff suffered third-degree burns on his right leg after his vaping device blew up in his pocket while he was at a jobsite.

The lawsuit named the manufacturer of the device and the distributor and retailer of the lithium-ion battery that was ultimately the cause of the explosion.

The manufacturer defaulted and was not involved at trial. Against the remaining defendants, claims included negligence and failure to warn, with additional warranty claims against the retailer.

Contributory negligence was charged and on the verdict form along with other statutory defenses including the sealed-container defense.

The plaintiff’s arguments included that it was an unauthorized sale (manufacturers of these batteries prohibit the individual use of these batteries), the battery itself was not authentic (it was a fake from China) and the warnings were either not given or inadequate.

Primary defenses included that they did not believe they sold the battery and, if they did, the plaintiff misused it. The defendants also argued that the Food and Drug Administration had impliedly authorized the use of these batteries in vaping devices.

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