Arlington woman sues vapor shop after e-cigarette battery explodes

Johnnie Flores of Arlington says she suffered severe burns after an e-cigarette battery exploded.
Johnnie Flores of Arlington says she suffered severe burns after an e-cigarette battery exploded. Courtesy

An Arlington woman is suing a vapor store for $1 million in damages, saying she suffered severe burns and disfigurement after an e-cigarette battery exploded in her pocket.

According to a petition filed in district court Monday by Johnnie Flores, the lithium-ion battery she purchased at Luxor Vapors exploded June 29, causing a scathing hot mixture of shrapnel and battery liquid to burn through the flesh of her hand and leg. The explosion caused third-degree burns, skin deformities and loss of sensation.

Flores is suing Arlington-based Luxe Vapors, Inc. for financial loss, medical expenses, physical impairment, permanent disfigurement, pain and mental anguish. The purchase was made at the vapor store’s Little Road location in Arlington. Management at that store declined to comment Tuesday morning.

According to the petition, Luxor Vapors knew of the defect in the batteries.

Flores’ attorney Jim Ross said that vaping associations have been well aware of the dangers of the batteries for years and that the warnings are passed along to the vapor companies as they order online.

“But they never pass the warnings on to the consumer,” Ross said. “The bottom line is do not put a dangerous product on the market, but if you do, warn the consumer.”

The petition mentions a study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency criticizing the dangers of electronic cigarettes and lithium-ion batteries.

According to a 2014 FEMA study, the shape and construction of electronic cigarettes can make them more likely than other products with lithium-ion batteries to behave like “flaming rockets” when a battery fails. Between 2009 and August 2014, 25 incidents of explosion and fire involving e-cigarettes were reported in the U.S.

This is the fifth case Ross has filed for severe damages from the batteries — two in Tarrant County and one each in Dallas, Denton and Wise counties.

“These burns are horrific,” the attorney said. “Some spend more than a month in a burn unit getting their leg scrubbed because of severe burns associated with these batteries.”

Susan McFarland: 817-390-7984, @susanmcfarland1