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Judge Requests Census of JUUL Cases Pending in Multidistrict Litigation

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The U.S. District Judge recently appointed to preside over all federal JUUL addiction and injury lawsuits has asked parties involved in the litigation to provide an initial census of the cases currently filed, to help the Court determine which attorneys should be appointed to serve in various leadership roles during the coordinated pretrial proceedings.

Dozens of product liability and class action lawsuits over JUUL have been filed in recent weeks, 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 thousands of cases will be presented throughout the federal court system.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued an order consolidating all JUUL cases 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.

Shortly after, Judge Orrick called for attorneys to apply for various leadership positions in the litigation, which will take certain actions during the MDL proceedings that benefit all plaintiffs, such as coordinating discovery and arguing motions before the court.

In a case management order (PDF) issued on October 25, Judge Orrick indicated that a census of all JUUL cases would help him decide who should sit on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee, Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee and in other leadership positions. In addition, he says the census will help determine how to best manage the litigation through its earliest phases.

The order calls for plaintiff and defense attorneys to confer in advance of a status conference scheduled for November 8, and to be prepared to discuss the initial census at that conference.

JUUL Teen Addiction Concerns

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.

A recent study indicated that e-cigarette advertising reaches 80% of middle and high school students in the U.S. Another study warns that vaping during adolescence quadruples a teen’s risk of becoming a cigarette tobacco smoker later.

On September 9, the FDA issued a warning letter to JUUL, indicating there was evidence it told school-aged children that its products were safer than cigarettes, which has not been proven.

In addition, federal and state health experts are investigating whether JUUL and other e-cigarettes are linked to hundreds of cases of respiratory illness, including nearly 30 deaths, as well as investigating whether JUUL is linked to nearly 130 cases of e-cigarette-related seizures.

In September, facing a criminal probe into its alleged marketing to children, JUUL suspended all advertising in the United States, and it’s CEO resigned.

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.

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