Michael (“Kodi”) Ellis, like so many people, had been trying to quit smoking. He knew it wasn’t good for him, but he found that quitting was harder than he thought. He’d heard that switching to vape pens might make it easier to give up cigarettes; so, Kodi decided he’d try using a vape pen to help him kick the habit.
On the morning of March 2, 2018, Kodi was riding as a passenger in his co-worker’s truck and had the vape pen’s rechargeable battery in the pocket of his shorts. Suddenly, without warning, the battery ignited, and his shorts caught on fire. His friend immediately stopped the truck and Kodi jumped out. He took off his shorts as quickly as he could, but he had already received significant burns to his thigh, leg, and buttocks. He was immediately taken to the emergency room.
Unfortunately, what happened to Kodi is not uncommon. A recent study from George Mason University estimated there were more than 2,000 visits to U.S. emergency rooms from 2015 to 2017 for e-cigarette burns and explosion-related injuries. The vast majority of those injured were men who had reportedly put e-cigarette batteries in their pants or shorts pockets prior to the batteries exploding. Many experienced severe burns to their legs, arms, and hands. Some also had keys in their pocket – a dangerous mix of metal and lithium-ion batteries.
A 2017 report from the U.S. Fire Administration, which is in charge of fire data collection, education, research, and training, found, “The shape and construction of electronic cigarettes can make them [more likely than other products with lithium-ion batteries] behave like ‘flaming rockets’ when a battery fails.”
Like many others who use vape pens, Kodi didn’t know that rechargeable batteries can be extremely dangerous. “The manufacturers of rechargeable batteries do not want you to know it, but the batteries can self-ignite without any warning to the person using the battery,” explained Matthew Posgay, a Board-Certified Civil Trial Attorney and shareholder at Coker Law. “This can occur even if the battery is not in the vape device itself and doesn’t come into contact with any other item.”
Kodi underwent multiple procedures by burn care specialists over the next several months to treat his wounds from the large burn areas. He endured excruciating pain for months. With the severity of the burns, he was also in no condition to work his job during the treatment and healing process.
Kodi reached out to Coker Law within days of his injury. Licensed firm investigator Walter Brozowski was able to gather and preserve the evidence to establish a chain of custody for the defective battery, vape pen, and extra batteries. Doing so safeguarded the validity of the evidence that would need to be presented in court.
Posgay and a consulting engineer conducted research that identified Samsung SDI as the manufacturer of the rechargeable battery. Presenting a claim against this foreign company was not going to be easy. Simply finding the right person to contact can be similar to finding your way through a cornfield maze; but the experienced and dedicated legal team working the case persisted. They identified the claims personnel who could address the horrible outcome of Kodi’s use of the rechargeable vape pen battery.
The evidence that the legal team at Coker Law provided Samsung SDI was so thorough that the company did not dispute the proof showing it was their rechargeable battery that caused the injuries to Kodi. Samsung SDI agreed to amicably resolve the claim to avoid extensive and expensive litigation. The swift outcome to Kodi’s case can be attributed to Coker Law’s ability to investigate the incident and preserve evidence quickly. That ability is something many firms just don’t have the resources to do. Coker Law knows that having full-time, dedicated, licensed investigators on staff helps achieve the best results for clients.
“Kodi’s quick thinking in contacting our office allowed critical evidence to be preserved,” said Posgay. “It was also great that Kodi did everything asked of him by both his legal team and his medical team so we could quickly resolve his case and he could heal as well as he did.”
Kodi is grateful to Coker Law for tracking down the right person at Samsung SDI to address his case and presenting the irrefutable evidence that convinced the company to resolve his case. He also remains extremely thankful that the excellent care from his physicians left him without significant long-term physical scarring.
Coker Law attorneys can help you recover financial compensation for the full amount of your losses including medical and rehabilitation expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages or income. If you have been injured by a dangerous or defective product contact our office to discuss your injuries and situation so we can evaluate whether you have a case and what type of claim would be appropriate to make on your behalf. To speak with a Coker Law personal injury attorney or for more information call (904) 356-6071 or click here to schedule a free consultation.
Case Title: Ellis v. Samsung SDI
Attorneys/Staff involved in the Case: Shareholder Matthew Posgay, Paralegal Denora Buben, Firm Investigator Walt Brozowski
Date of Settlement: June 2020
Amount of Settlement: $150,000