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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal JUUL lawsuits has appointed a small group of plaintiffs’ attorneys to serve in various leadership positions during coordinated pretrial proceedings in the recently established multidistrict litigation (MDL), which is expected to involve thousands of claims involving teens and young adults left with nicotine addictions or other injuries following use of the controversial e-cigarette.
Dozens of complaints have been filed in recent months, each raising similar allegations that the e-cigarette manufacturer marketed their product toward minors and prior non-smokers, while failing to warn that JUUL pods are more potent and addictive than traditional cigarettes.
As more parents and young adults step forward to pursue claims after becoming addicted to JUUL, it is widely expected that the size of the litigation will continue to grow over the coming months and years.
On October 2, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued an order consolidating all JUUL lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system before Judge William H. Orrick III in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which is where JUUL Labs, Inc.’s San Francisco headquarters are located.
In a court order (PDF) issued on December 12, Judge Orrick appointed four attorneys to serve as co-lead counsel, one to act as liaison counsel, two attorneys to federal/state court liaison counsel, one to serve as a government entity liaison counsel, and 14 to serve as the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.
In complex medical device cases, where a large group of lawsuits present similar claims, it is common for the Court to appoint a group of lawyers to leadership roles to coordinate general discovery into common issues in the cases, argue motions before the court and take certain actions during the MDL proceedings that will benefit all plaintiffs. However, each individual plaintiff will still maintain their own attorney to handle case-specific issues and establish that their injuries were caused by the recalled valsartan medications.
JUUL Teen Addiction Problems
Recent FDA data indicates teen e-cigarette use has reached epidemic levels in the United States, and JUUL Labs has been accused of fueling the growing teen nicotine addiction problems in the United States, through the design and marketing of their vape pen.
JUUL was intentionally designed to look like a USB thumb drive, which has made the product popular among teems who are able to hide their vaping habit from parents, teachers and other adults.
The manufacturer also marketed and sold JUUL in various candy-like flavors, which has resulted in a large number of teens and prior non-smokers starting to vape, and developing addictions to the high levels of nicotine contained in the pods.
As part of the consolidation into a MDL, all pretrial proceedings will be handled by Judge Orrick, but the cases will remain individual lawsuits. If settlements for JUUL nicotine addictions or another resolution is not reached during the pretrial proceedings, each case may eventually be transferred back to their originating districts for trial in the future.