A Miami lawyer apparently began feeling the heat while delivering a closing argument in an arson trial.
Attorney Stephen Gutierrez made a quick run for a nearby restroom when smoke started pouring from his pants pocket in an incident that made national and international headlines.
“Gutierrez… had been fiddling in his pocket as he was about to address jurors when smoke began billowing out his right pocket…He rushed out of the Miami courtroom, leaving spectators stunned,” the Miami Herald explained.
The burned barrister who was unharmed and returned from to the restroom shortly thereafter claims that a defective electronic-cigarette battery caused the whole thing.
E-cigarettes are marketed as a safer alternative to traditional cigarette smoking because they produce nicotine inhaled by the consumer in the form of vapor without burning tobacco. They are also viewed as a way to gradually taper off from the nicotine addiction. As Natural News previously noted, however, some studies nonetheless suggest a possible link between e-cig aerosol and lung cancer
Miami-Dade law enforcement authorities are investigating as to whether the courtroom incident was a staged demonstration, something that Gutierrez, 28, denied in an interview with local media. Gutierrez characterized the incident as surreal and unbelievable, adding that he’s giving up vaping because of the danger posed by the potentially malfunctioning battery operated cigarette substitute. (RELATED: Read more about e-cigs at StopSmoking.news.)
He also categorically denied staging the incident. A contempt of court sanction is a possibility, according to the Herald, if court officials decide that where there’s smoke, there’s fire, as it were.
In an additional irony, Gutierrez was trying to convince the jury that his client’s car spontaneously combusted rather than being intentionally torched when he himself appeared to spontaneously combust. Notwithstanding this defense strategy, the jury convicted the suspect on a charge of second-degree arson.
As various news outlets observed about the story that blew up the Internet, this accident gives a new meaning to the paraphrased playground rhyme, lawyer lawyer, pants on fire.
“Questions about the health and fire risks of the products have mounted, with the U.S. Department of Transportation recently banning e-cigarettes from checked bags on airplanes,” the Herald noted.
In an October 2014 report, the U.S. Fire Administration described e-cigarette-related fires or explosions as rare, with only 25 reported cases in the 2009 to August 2014 time frame. Most of these incidents occurred in the battery-recharge mode.
Last year, a Naples, Fla., man sued a manufacturer and local retailer for personal injuries after an e-cigarette allegedly blew up in his face, temporarily leaving him in a coma.