A South Carolina man is suing Sony, claiming their batteries are dangerous, after an 18650 cell exploded in his pocket and burned his right leg.
The battery was being carried loose in Thomas Masters’ pocket, and he admits it may have made contact with change or keys. Such incidents are probably the most common reason for vaping battery explosions.
The lawsuit was filed in June against Sony Electronics Inc. and the Sony Corporation of America. It specifically identifies the battery as a Sony VTC5. The suit contends that the batteries were dangerous because they had no internal temperature control or protective circuitry.
The suit alleges that Sony “sold the batteries knowing that they had manufacturing defects and did not comply with safety standards.” According to Chris Moore, Masters’ attorney, Chinese distributors resell 18650 cells to American vape shops, even though Sony doesn’t sell the batteries for that purpose.
But according to Moore, it’s Sony’s responsibility to know where their products ultimately are sold and how they might be misused. “If it is foreseeable to Sony that the individual cells might be taken out and used in an application like this, where it could have a potential for short circuiting, then they should take precautions,” he said.
The injury occurred in December 2016. Since then, Masters has had several surgeries and skin grafts. Masters’ attorney told the Beaufort Gazette that they haven’t decided on an exact damage figure they will ask for. Masters is a construction worker, and Moore told the paper that “It would be hard for him to go out and work on houses.”
Chris Moore said that he knows of “at least a dozen” similar suits in South Carolina, including four initiated by his law firm. Sony told the Gazette they wouldn’t comment on ongoing litigation.
Battery safety is becoming one of the biggest issues in vaping. New legislation that may be part of the 2018 federal budget would give the FDA responsibility to regulate the batteries in vaping devices.