HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Electronic cigarettes are marketed as the safer alternative to get your nicotine fix. But old-fashioned cigarettes don't explode in your pocket.
That's what happened to a Huntsville man who's now suing the store and its owners who sold it to him.
The wounds on Tim Jensen look like they could have come from an explosion in a war zone, but he sustained his wounds at home. The irony is that Jensen is an Army veteran who served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he got his wounds while driving down the road in Huntsville.after a stop for batteries at Kick'n My Habit Vapors.
His lawsuit explains the rest. It alleges an employee recommended the batteries, which had no warnings on the label before he started using them.
The lawsuit states that Jensen placed the batteries in his front pocket, and then it happened.
"I just felt heat come from my pocket, just almost instantaneous. When I looked down at my pocket: fire. The battery exploded," said Jensen.
He spent days in UAB's burn center with third- and second-degree burns to his legs and hands. After 60 staples and skin grafts, Jensen is suing the store owners for negligence for selling the batteries.
"The people that sell, distribute, manufacture these batteries, that's who we want to teach a lesson to," said Mitchell Howie, Jensen's attorney.
He had a battery similar to the one sold to Jensen. It was the size of a AA battery. Howie said Kick'n My Habit Vapors knew it was a hazard but failed to provide the knowledge to safely operate the battery.
"This is either defectively manufactured or it shouldn't even be on the market," said Howie.
The lithium-ion batteries used in e-cigarette vaporizers are small and powerful. When they fail, the results can be disastrous. There have been previous reports of sparks and explosions in the pockets of unsuspecting e-cigarette owners.
There is very little regulation in the industry. The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association touts the fact that e-cigarettes help reduce the use of conventional tobacco but says it needs logical regulation while also educating consumers about how to safely use them.
The attorney for Kick'n My Habit Vapors declined to comment because of pending litigation. But in their answer to the complaint, they repeatedly deny all allegations behind selling the battery.
The attorney for Kick'n My Habit Vapors, Rad Gaines, issued this statement:
Jensen plans to argue that.
"Going in and purchasing a battery that you know nothing about and the effects it could have could be detrimental to your life," said Jensen.
Jensen said his medical costs are well past $50,000 and wants to be compensated.
WAFF 48 will keep you updated on the outcome of this case.
The lawsuit and response are below.
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