JUUL litigation update
Multiple JUUL lawsuits from around the country were consolidated in the JUUL multidistrict litigation (MDL) in 2019 and assigned to Judge William Orrick in the Northern District of California. The MDL consists of individual personal injury cases, school district public nuisance cases, county and municipality cases, and class action cases.
As we previously reported in The Gavel, the $7 Billion electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) global industry continues to grow as some projections believe ENDS sales will surpass combustible cigarette sales as early as 2022. Since its launch in 2015, JUUL has grown into the leader in the sale of these products.
No demographic has been more influenced by this trend than teenagers. Five million youth, kids in middle school and high school, report consuming tobacco products regularly. From 2017 to 2018, during the rise of JUUL, there was a 78 percent increase in ENDS use among high school students and a 48 percent increase among middle school students.
The extraordinary growth of JUUL drew a lot of critical attention. Its marketing tactics and lack of appropriate label warnings were brought into question. Not only did JUUL target underage audiences, but they also failed to have appropriate product labels warning users of the high nicotine level and addictive nature of these products. Instead, JUUL knowingly concealed this information from consumers until they were mandated by the FDA to add appropriate black box labels to their displays and to their packaging. By that time, though, the JUUL craze was already well on its way and the addition of label warnings have been unable to curb the upward trend in youth popularity.
In response to these issues, legal action has been taken on behalf of individuals who are now addicted to nicotine from JUUL's lack of warning, their improper targeting of teens and the physical harm that has come from the consumption of vaporized nicotine salts. Some are dealing with lung damage that has required hospitals to place them on forced oxygen breathing machines for days. Irreversible lung damage has been reported.
Multiple JUUL lawsuits from around the country were consolidated in the JUUL multidistrict litigation (MDL) on Oct. 2, 2019, and assigned to Judge William Orrick in the Northern District of California. The MDL consists of individual personal injury cases, school district public nuisance cases, county and municipality cases, and class action cases. Just last month, Judge Orrick ruled on a group of these MDL lawsuits against several current and former JUUL executives, along with the e-cigarette maker's largest investor, Altria Group Inc. Altria is a tobacco company headquartered in Virginia that holds a 35% stake in Juul and produces Marlboro cigarettes, among other brands. Plaintiffs in these cases contend that Altria is liable for fraud for its role in the "Make the Switch" campaign as well as its false nicotine content statements and failure to disclose risk on Juul packaging.
Judge Orrick ruled that the plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged actions by Atria in those schemes at this point in the proceedings. The judge stated, "Whether plaintiffs can prove their allegations against Altria — including whether the statements were fraudulent or misrepresented anything known by Altria — and whether the specific bellwether plaintiffs can establish the connection between their harms and the representations made or facilitated by Altria, will be tested at summary judgment or trial."
Have you or a loved one been affected?
Main Street Law Firm will continue to update you on the progression of the JUUL MDL. If you or someone close to you has been hospitalized from the use of JUUL, you may be eligible for compensation without ever having to step foot in court. Fill out our free case review HERE and a legal representative will contact you about your potential case.