Fort Worth

Family of man who died in e-cig explosion files lawsuit against shop where it happened

The family of a man who died in January after his electronic cigarette exploded in his face has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Keller-based store where the incident occurred, according to court records.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Tarrant County District Court on March 29, alleges that Smoke and Vape DZ, at 4528 Golden Triangle Blvd., was negligent in selling William Eric Brown, 24, the e-cigarette battery that exploded as Brown sat in his grandmother’s car just outside of the store.

Brown died at John Peter Smith Hospital two days after crawling from the car to the trunk area, where he collapsed on the pavement, said his grandmother, Alice Brown. She said she believes William was attempting to get help. Alice Brown said somebody who saw William called an ambulance.

The medical examiner ruled William Brown’s cause of death as penetrating trauma from an exploding vaporizer pen. His left carotid artery was severed, the report says. Alice Brown said doctors at JPS told her that William suffered a stroke inside the car and eventually had bleeding in his brain.

The lawsuit says that the explosion caused a piece of glass to travel through Brown’s teeth, which then broke, and into his neck, which lacerated a major artery.

It wasn’t known just after the incident what company manufactured the faulty battery. The lawsuit doesn’t provide that information and doesn’t name anyone else.

A manager at Smoke and Vape DZ said on Monday evening that the store didn’t know a lawsuit had been filed. In January, its owners said that Brown didn’t buy the device at their store, according to reports.

However, the lawsuit says that the store was negligent in failing to analyze the lithium-ion batteries before marketing and selling them. The lawsuit also accuses the store of failing to warn Brown about the dangers of lithium-ion batteries in electronic cigarettes.

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Nichole Manna is an investigative reporter for the Star-Telegram. Before moving to Fort Worth in July 2018, she covered crime and breaking news in Tennessee, North Carolina, Nebraska and Kansas. She is a 2012 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and grew up in Florida.