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Washington vape shops sued over alleged ‘exploding e-cigarettes’

Four Washington vapes shops are currently being sued by former customers after accusations of exploding e-cigarettes allegedly leading to extensive physical injuries.  In a Seattle news conference, last Thursday, attorneys for the plaintiffs, Gregory Bentley and James Rogers, called the lithium batteries used in vaping devices as “ticking time bombs,” equating them to the now scandalous Samsung Galaxy Note 7 controversy.

Bentley’s California-based firm is no stranger to filing lawsuits against the vaping industry.  In September of 2015, his firm won $1.8 million in damages for a client previously injured by an exploding electronic cigarette while in her car.  Seattle lawyer Rogers is acting as Bentley’s co-counsel.  The four Washington vape shops being sued are:

  • e-cigExpress Seattle
  • Fatboy Vapors in Vancouver
  • Lilac City Vapor in Spokane
  • Vape D Lish in Longview

The Plaintiffs in the Washington vape shops case

Sidney Hayes is a baby-faced 23-year old man who claims that his e-cig exploded in his mouth while taking a “smoke break” at work.  He further claims that his tongue and face were severely burned while requiring facial reconstruction surgery for eight blown out teeth and badly burned gums.  Marlene Rubertt from Spokane, 45, is making very similar claims.  The other two plaintiffs are Dontae Gardner, 19, and Olaf Ericksen, 40.  They are suing their respective vape shops after their vaping devices allegedly caught fire in their pants pockets.


In last week’s press conference, Attorneys Bentley and Rogers held up ugly photos of the plaintiffs’ severe burns on various parts of their bodies as a possible legal strategy to gain public sympathy.  They are also placing young Mr. Hayes front-and-center.  Hayes looks much younger than his 23-years, adorably innocent, and the perfect “poster child” for a vaping industry gone amuck.  Bentley and Rogers are apparently not afraid of playing dirty to win their case.

“Following the Samsung Galaxy Note7 problems, it seems as if there's been more attention now to the lithium-ion battery and its failures, and its defects…These batteries are ticking time bombs. And they're causing harm all across the country at a rapid and growing rate."
-Attorney Gregory Bentley

When a spokesperson for the plaintiffs was questioned why they are suing the vape shops and not the manufacturers, Cheryl Snow stated that they have every legal right to pursue justice and financial restitution from anyone in the e-cig supply chain.  She also stated that plans to launch a second court case against the manufacturers is not totally off the table.

This case is important because it places local business owners in the line of fire for lawsuits alleging exploding e-cigarettes.  Even in cases where the injuries were a direct result of manufacturer defects or poor safety practices of the consumer, vape shops could still be at risk of being sued into bankruptcy.  However, the case against the four Washington vape shops must first be fought in Washington’s King County Superior Court. 


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