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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all JUUL lawsuits has issued new orders designed to streamline the process of filing new complaints in the federal court system by individuals who have suffered personal injuries from the controversial vaping pods.
Teens, parents, and a number of school districts nationwide have filed more than 300 complaints in recent months, each raising similar allegations involving nicotine addiction problems from JUUL, indicating the design of the vape pen and the manufacturer’s marketing strategy intentionally targeted adolescents and prior non-smokers.
Given similar questions of fact and law presented in claims filed throughout the federal court system, the lawsuits are now centralized before U.S. District 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.
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.
In a court order (PDF) issued this week, Judge Orrick approved a Master Complaint form filed on behalf of all plaintiffs in the MDL, as well as a short form complaint (SFC) that allows new claims to be brought through a streamlined process where each plaintiff can adopt certain allegations relevant to their claim.
Another order (PDF) issued the same day approved both Plaintiff and Defendant Fact Sheets for the litigation, which will be used to facilitate the exchange of information among the parties about each claim.
Judge Orrick ordered each Plaintiff with a case pending in the MDL as of March 27 to file a short form complaint by April 13, 2020, to standardize the allegations presented in all of the previously filed lawsuits. Any future plaintiffs who join the litigation after March 27 have 20 days to fill out the short form complaint after their case is transferred to the MDL.
In complex product liability lawsuits, where large numbers of individuals are pursuing similar claims and allegations, it is common for the Court to approve a Master and Short Form complaint to simplify the process of filing new claims, and help the parties coordinate, categorize and evaluate the claims. Given the widespread JUUL addictions among teens and young adults, it is widely expected that the litigation may include tens of thousands of claims brought by individuals nationwide.
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 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.