An e-cigarette is a device that uses battery power to heat a liquid to a high enough temperature so that it produces an aerosol which users inhale. Typically, the fluid in an e-cigarette cartridge contains nicotine. E-cigarettes go by several names, including vape pens, tank systems, and mods. Over the past decade, use of these products has grown at an exponential rate, mostly among younger users. Maryland e-cigarette use among young adults is concerning for many reasons, including the fact that there have been many reports of severe physical injury related to use of these products.
Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that was brought by a man who lost several teeth when an e-cigarette device exploded while he was inhaling. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff sued several defendants who manufactured, marketed, and sold the device; however, most defendants settled with the plaintiff before trial. Thus, at trial, the case proceeded against just one defendant.
Before trial, the defendant wanted to introduce evidence that the plaintiff was a former user of methamphetamine. The defendant suggested that the plaintiff’s methamphetamine use could have contributed to the plaintiff’s damages. The court precluded the evidence, and the case went to trial by jury. After trial, a jury awarded the plaintiff $48,000 for medical expenses and $2 million in compensation for his pain and suffering.
The defendant appealed the verdict on two grounds. First, that the lower court erred in preventing the defendant from introducing evidence of the plaintiff’s former methamphetamine use; and second, the defendant claimed that the damages award was excessive. The appellate court rejected both of the defendant’s arguments and affirmed the jury’s verdict.
Regarding the first issue, the court acknowledged that the plaintiff’s former drug use might have resulted in existing dental problems. However, the court explained that this evidence was not relevant to the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The court explained that the jury’s job was to determine whether the defendant’s product was responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. Here, the plaintiff’s former drug use was only relevant to the extent of the damages, and not the cause of the damages. The court also noted that evidence of prior drug use is very prejudicial and, in this case, outweighed any probative value the evidence offered.
The court went on to hold that the $2 million award for pain and suffering did not “shock the judicial conscience” and was not excessive, given the evidence presented.
Have You Been Injured in Washington, D.C. Vape Pen Accident?
If you or someone you love was recently injured by an e-cigarette or vape pen contact the dedicated Maryland product liability attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. Whether your injuries were the result of a burn or an explosion, our team of experienced and aggressive personal injury lawyers can help fight to get you the compensation you deserve. To learn more about how we can help you bring a Maryland product liability lawsuit against those responsible for your injuries, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.