Milberg Lawsuit Accuses LG Chem of Selling Exploding E-Cig Battery
by Brian Eckert
A North Carolina man is suing LG Chem, saying he suffered serious burns when his e-cigarette’s lithium-ion battery exploded in his pocket. The plaintiff alleges that LG Chem knew the battery that injured him was substandard and could explode but continued to sell it.
Subject Battery Sold For Years Despite Known “Catastrophic Risk of Explosion”
Plaintiff Adrian Kent Petite is a resident of Reidsville, North Carolina, where he purchased multiple LG lithium-ion 18650 batteries from a local vape shop. The batteries were sold with no warnings regarding their safe storage or use, he said in a federal complaint filed on November 21, 2023.
According to the complaint, Petite had two LG batteries in his pocket when he heard a “pop” noise from the batteries exploding. He went into shock, was transported to a local hospital, and received treatment for second- and third-degree burns to his leg and knee. Petite was hospitalized for 13 days and, due to his injuries, was out of work for close to a year. The exploding batteries also left him with permanent scarring.
The complaint states that lithium-ion batteries sold by LG Chem have been used in e-cigarettes for years in spite of having a “catastrophic risk of explosion” to users. Based on testimony from corporate representatives, LG Chem has known its batteries were being sold to U.S. consumers and injuring them since “the end of 2015 or early 2016.”
Only recently, with the spike in explosions of LG batteries—and resulting bad press—has LG taken any action to attempt to stem the tide of its batteries reaching North Carolina shores, posting an insufficient ‘warning’ to its website.
LG Chem has been hit with dozens of lawsuits in multiple states over e-cigarette battery burn injuries. LG Chem was first sued over an e-cigarette battery explosion in 2016, the complaint says, yet its “batteries remain on the shelves of e-cigarette stores across the country, including in North Carolina.”
Lithium-ion batteries can be more dangerous in e-cigarettes because when the device malfunctions or fails, the battery can be “shot out like a bullet or rocket,” the complaint adds. At least two deaths have been reported in connection with exploding e-cigarettes.
The lawsuit goes on to claim that LG Chem doesn’t get rid of “inferior” batteries. It sells them to other distributors, “knowing full well” they may be used in other electronics. This alternative use of its batteries is allegedly a “profit driver” for LG Chem.
LG Chem began posting a warning about the subject batteries to its website only in 2019, admitting that “LG Chem has learned that some individual consumers purchase and use its cylindrical lithium-ion battery cells in e-cigarettes and Vape Products that incorporate replaceable and rechargeable individual Li- Ion Cells.” The lawsuit calls this warning “insufficient.”
Claims and Damages Sought
Petite asserts claims of defective manufacturing, inadequate warning, negligence, and breach of implied warranty in his lawsuit. He is seeking punitive damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, and the fees and costs associated with filing the suit. The case is LG Chem LTD, case number 1:23-cv-01021, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.
Milberg has a nearly 60 year track record of holding some of the biggest corporations in the world accountable and protecting victims’ rights. Since 1965, we’ve challenged corporate wrongdoing, set groundbreaking legal precedents, prompted meaningful changes in how big companies do business, and recovered over $50 billion for our clients.