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Electronic Cigarette Explodes in Man's Mouth

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on February 16, 2012 5:05 AM

An electronic cigarette exploded in a Florida man's mouth, causing disfiguring injuries and burns, firefighters say. A defective product lawsuit is likely.

Tom Holloway, 57, of Niceville, Fla., lost some front teeth and part of his tongue in the e-cigarette explosion, the Associated Press reports. He also suffered burns to his face.

The blast can be blamed on the e-cigarette's battery, firefighters said. "The best analogy is like it was trying to hold a bottle rocket in your mouth when it went off," one firefighter told the AP.

The electronic cigarette explosion happened Feb. 13. Holloway was trying to quit smoking by using an e-cigarette, a battery-powered cigarette that delivers tobacco vapor instead of smoke. Somehow the e-cig’s tiny battery blew up, firefighters say.

The brand of e-cigarette and type of battery are not yet known, investigators told the AP. But a trade-industry expert said he had not heard of any similar problems among the 2.5 million Americans who used e-cigarettes last year.

As Tom Holloway recovers from the electronic cigarette explosion, he may be considering a products liability lawsuit. The suit could allege a design defect — that injuries caused by a product could have been avoided by adopting a different design.

The suit could also allege a manufacturing defect — an error in the process of making the product; strict liability generally applies in those cases. Holloway may also be able to pursue a claim under an implied warranty of merchantability — that a product sold is in good working order.

Tom Holloway is recovering at a burn center, his neighbor told local WEAR-TV. The electronic cigarette explosion victim, possibly the nation’s first, is also a Vietnam vet and a father of three.

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