PALOS HEIGHTS, Ill. — Over the last decade, many people have looked to e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to smoking.

South suburban resident Michael Lumpkins was one of those people. The father of two from Palos Heights started using e-cigarettes several years ago. He said he believed the product was less risky than smoking. Within a year he said he developed pneumonia. Even while taking antibiotics, the infection traveled to his brain and caused permanent lesions. On scans, the damage looks like a brain injury.

Brian LaCien is an attorney representing Lumpkins.

“Unfortunately, in Mr. Lumpkins’ case, where the infection [traveled] was in his cerebral space, which was a rare type of infection,” he said. “The [e-cigarette] he used reduced his body’s ability to fight the disease.”

Lumpkins is now suing JUUL Labs, one of the largest e-cigarettes makers in the world. The lawsuit claims the company did not post proper warning about the risks of using its product.

A company spokesman did not respond to WGN’s repeated requests for comment.

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Lumpkins now struggles to walk and take care of himself. His cognitive function has also been impaired.

“It’s beaten the hell out of me,” he said.

Lumpkins’ lawsuit is now winding through the courts. In the meantime, when asked what advice he had for e-cigarette users, he said, “Stop now. The vaping about killed me.”

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