CLAREMONT (CBSLA.com) — A Corona husband and wife have sued an e-cigarette manufacturer after its rechargeable battery exploded in their vehicle, leaving the woman with second-degree burns.
Jennifer Ries and her husband, Xavier, were on their way to the Los Angeles International Airport for a volunteer trip to South America back in March.
Ries said she was charging a VapCigs e-cigarette when an aroma filled the car.
“My husband asked if I had nail polish in the car. I looked around and I saw the battery to the (e-cigarette) dripping. I went to unscrew it and the battery started shooting fire toward me and then exploded and shot the metal pieces onto my lap,” she said.
Ries told CBS2’s Serene Branson that her cotton dress caught fire.
“A blowtorch type of fire and then an explosion,” she said.
Xavier said he immediately got the car into the emergency lane.
“I let go of (Jennifer) so she could get out, grabbed the coffee that was sitting between us, and threw it on the seat to put (the fire) out,” he said.
“I got severe second-degree burns on both the back of my upper thighs and my lower buttocks,” said Ries.
Ries said she’s still visiting doctors at UC Irvine Health Regional Burn Center.
“I’m supposed to stay out of the sun for at least two years,” she said.
Gregory Bentley is representing the Ries’ in a lawsuit against Benham Zolgdahr, the retailer, and Corona-based VapCigs.
“When a company, regardless of who it is, puts a product into the marketplace, it should be safe,” he said.
Bentley said the bigger issue is that while the e-cigarette industry is growing rapidly, it’s not being regulated.
“Right now, at least how it stands, the FDA is regulating this whole industry as a tobacco product, so all of the component parts, including the battery, the charger, and so on, are not tested for safety,” he said.
“The more this goes on without being regulated, the more it’s going to happen,” said Ries.
CBS2’s calls to VapCigs were not returned.