Sony is sued after e-cigarette explodes in man’s pocket leaving him badly burned

Electronics giant Sony is being sued after an e-cigarette battery exploded in a man’s pocket ... and the way airlines deal with lithium-ion batteries is forming an important part of the case.

Bernardino Manuel lodged the case in New York claiming he was left seriously injured by the explosion that set his clothes on fire, burning his right thigh and both hands.

According to a report in online publication Law Street Media, Mr Manuel says lithium-ion batteries are known to have a higher risk of fire and explosion and that in recent similar cases a New Jersey man was badly burned when an e-cigarette exploded in his pocket, a Californian man lost an eye when an e-cigarette exploded near him and a southern California woman was set on fire after an e-cigarette exploded while she was a passenger in a car. 

A crucial part of the case is Mr Manuel’s complaint that the US Government has failed to regulate lithium-ion batteries although the US Department of Transportation issued a rule banning e-cigarettes from suitcases in airplane luggage holds because “they have been known to catch fire.” 

He argues Sony knows the risk with lithium-ion batteries and should have warned people using the e-cigarettes not to carry them in their pockets.

Lithium-ion batteries explode when they go into what’s known as thermal runaway. This happens when one cell in a battery overheats it can produce enough heat – up to 900°C (1652°F) – to cause adjacent cells to overheat. This can cause a lithium battery fire to flare repeatedly even to the point of flames shooting out of the side.

Over the years several manufacturers, including Sony, have recalled millions of batteries because of potential explosions caused by manufacturing defects.

Thermal runaway in PEDs has long been a serious concern on aircraft which is why many airline companies use AvSax fire mitigation and containment bags.

AvSax are the world’s best-selling aircraft fire containment bags by far and are now on more than 15,373 aircraft operated by 80 airline companies. They have been used 32 times to deal with emergencies since the start of 2017 and every time they have been deployed the aircraft has been able to complete its journey safely with no need to divert or make an emergency landing.

AvSax won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the UK in 2018 and were designed by Environmental Defence Services Ltd based in Yorkshire, UK.