Claims & Litigation Involving Lithium-Ion Batteries

Jonathan Jordan, Senior Consultant, Engineering Systems, Inc.
Gregg Tatarka, Partner, Wilson Elser

Battery manufacturers and the manufacturers of the host products that contain batteries typically know their product better than anyone else. After all, they have designed, tested, and manufactured the product. However, they may know very little about how their product would respond in a structure fire. Many times, manufacturers of battery powered products are one of the parties included in a fire investigation whether their product actually caused the fire or not. Representatives for the battery manufacturer may not have the technical expertise to determine whether or not their battery caused the fire or was simply a victim of the fire. Representatives for the battery manufacturer also may not have the legal expertise in defending themselves against allegations that their product caused the fire.† They may also not know how to protect their interests when placed on notice of a product liability claim, such as handling government compliance. However, no amount of design, testing, or manufacturing process can prevent attorneys, insurance personnel, fire investigators, or engineers from pointing the finger at a battery as the cause of a fire, even if the battery had no involvement. Evidentiary remains of a battery pack or cells are far different post fire, many times to the point a manufacturer that has not seen their own batteries in this condition may not be able to readily identify their battery. This presentation will provide the audience with an understanding of fire investigation processes, standards, and testing with regards to batteries as well as analysis on the legal impact of fire losses that involve batteries.

 

 

Jonathan Jordan is an electrical engineer, and has performed numerous investigations into fires caused or allegedly caused by electrical issues. His experience includes evaluation of electronics products and their failure modes to determine whether they adhered to relevant safety standards, including those established by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Mr. Jordan has also evaluated products and components for structural wiring compliance with the National Electric Code (NEC).

 

Gregg Tatarka is a partner in Wilson Elserís White Plains office. He focuses on managing national counsel coordinating programs for products liability, with a particular specialization in fire litigation. Gregg has defended a number of clients regarding alleged failures of lithium-ion batteries causing fires, property damage or bodily injury.

 

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