Remi Miguel Gomez Hernandez Died In Ozone Park, Queens Accidental Fire Caused By E-Scooter Battery Explosion
QUEENS, NEW YORK (September 1, 2021) – A 9-year-old boy identified as Remi Hernandez has tragically died in a Ozone Park, Queens house fire started by an e-scooter battery that ignited.
New York City police officials are saying that the accident took place early Wednesday. Remi Hernandez was in a basement apartment when the fire first began.
The boy’s father did everything he could to rescue his son who was trapped. But flames had already engulfed the entire unit.
Firefighters and paramedics were called to the scene of the blaze. They were able to put the fire out at the garage / basement apartment unit.
Firefighters were able to remove Remi Miguel Gomez Hernandez from the unit, but it was too late. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Multiple people receive treatment for smoke inhalation. They were taken to the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.
The fire is believed to have started when the battery of an e-scooter ignited or exploded. This is the third fatality this year that has been linked to e-bike / e-scooter batteries.
Officials with the Department of Buildings (DOB) are saying that the apartment unit where the fire began was a dangerous illegal conversion. In fact, the DOB has received complaints about this illegal basement apartment as far back as 2012.
A full investigation into the tragic Queens apartment fire that killed Remi Hernandez remains ongoing at this time.
Liability In Queens House Fires Started By E-Scooter Batteries
Electric scooters and bikes run off of lithium ion batteries, which are the same type that power phones, computers and other electronics. But there have been many issues with the way these batteries have been manufactured and scooters and bikes. Problems with some of the batteries have led to them overheating, catching fire and exploding. So far this year e-bike batteries have caused over 55 fires in New York City alone. There are a number of reasons that lithium-ion batteries may catch fire.
- Manufacturing Defects: If impurities creep into the manufacturing process this could lead to catastrophic failure of the lithium-ion cell. A thinning of separators could also lead to cell failure.
- Design Flaws: Companies occasionally cut corners to save on costs. But this can also compromise the safety of the batteries they produce. For example, if batteries lack proper cooling systems this could cause the battery cells’ temperature to rise and combust.
- Improper Usage: Excessive high-voltage charging could damage any battery. Leaving a battery next to a heat source for long periods could do the same thing.
- Charger Issues: The use of poorly insulated chargers can make a battery unstable over time.
- Low-Quality Components: Companies using low-quality components is the most common cause of battery fires. The use of low-quality materials is yet another cost saving measure that often comes at the expense of safety. Battery management systems add costs to electronics, but they also make lithium-ion batteries safer.
Depending on the facts of any case, the company that manufactured an e-scooter or its component parts could be liable for an accident. Companies that design e-scooters have a responsibility to make those products reasonably safe. When a company fails to make their products reasonably safe they could be held accountable through a product liability claim. For example, a company could be held liable for a fire cause by their product when there is a flaw with the way that product is designed. In arguing for the existence of a design defect a plaintiff must show:
- The product was not reasonably safe due to a significant likelihood of harm;
- It was feasible for the product to have been designed in a safer way, and;
- The defect in question was the proximate cause of the injury a victim sustained. (Voss v. Black & Decker Mfg. Co., 59 N.Y.2d 102)
E-scooter companies could also be held liable for an accident if they fail to warn about the potential dangers of their product. There must be warnings for (1) latent dangers that result from the foreseeable uses of a product that are known or reasonably foreseen and (2) dangers associated with the unauthorized use of a product that are known or reasonably foreseen. Liability for a house fire could extend beyond a product manufacturer if the property where the fire took place was in a dangerous condition.
Building owners in New York have a legal responsibility to maintain their properties in a reasonably safe condition. This must be done for the protection of everyone on a property whose presence is reasonably foreseeable. For example, all apartment units should have clear and accessible exits in the event of a fire. There shouldn’t be boxes or other equipment that obstruct doorways. If a New York City property owner violates (DOB) regulations and creates illegal units they could be liable in the event of a fire. Illegal conversions under (DOB) guidelines will include:
- “Making illegal apartments by altering a basement, cellar, or attic.”
- “Subdividing other areas of an apartment, house, or a building illegally.”
The family of any victim that died in an apartment fire may be able to seek justice through a wrongful death claim. Damages in a civil claim can help cover lost wages, medical bills, funeral expenses and loss of love. It is crucial that evidence is properly preserved and protected after any accident. Product manufactures and building owners will often fight extremely hard to deny any responsibility for an accident. A wrongful death attorney can examine all of the specific facts of your case free of cost and let you know what your legal options are.
Investigating A Queens Apartment Fire Started By Electric Scooter Batteries
We at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of Remi Hernandez. It is our sincere hope that everyone injured in this blaze will be able to make a full recovery. There needs to be a thorough investigation for the sake of all who have lost so much.
Many questions need to be answered after this tragedy. How did this illegal apartment unit manage to evade detection by the DOB when they knew about it all the way back in 2012? What caused the battery of this scooter to ignite? This was a tragedy that should never have taken place. It is our sincere hope that city officials will implement measures to protect consumers from these dangerous illegal units.