JUUL Litigation To Move Forward With “Sense of Urgency” Due To Public Health Concerns, MDL Judge Indicates
The U.S. District Judge recently appointed to preside over all federal JUUL addiction lawsuits has indicated that he intends to move the litigation forward in a quick and efficient manner, given the urgency and gravity of the significant public health concerns that are raised in the cases.
Dozens of product liability and class action lawsuits over JUUL have been filed against the e-cigarette manufacturer, over vaping addictions and illegal marketing that has resulted in a widespread epidemic of “JUULing” among teens and young adults throughout the U.S.
Given common questions of fact and law raised in the JUUL litigation, complaints filed throughout the federal court system were centralized last month before U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick III, in the Northern District of California, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
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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 included in the litigation.
In advance of an initial status conference last week, Judge Orrick issued an order (PDF) that explained the importance of moving the cases forward with a sense of urgency.
“The allegations are very serious and raise significant public health concerns,” Judge Orrick noted. “My expectation is that all parties share this sense of urgency and will move forward together in a speedy, collaborative, and efficient manner to secure a just resolution of these cases.”
As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, it is expected that Judge Orrick will appoint a group of JUUL injury lawyers to serve in various leadership roles during the litigation, conducting discovery and taking certain actions that benefit all plaintiffs.
If settlements for JUUL addictions or another resolution is not reached by the parties, Judge Orrick will likely schedule a series of early “bellwether” claims for early trial dates, to gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.
JUUL Health Concerns Are Focus of Courts, Regulators, Doctors and Parents
The JUUL litigation is getting underway as federal regulators and communities nationwide are working to combat the problems posed by widespread vaping addiction among teens and young adults.
According to a recent statement by federal health officials, a quarter of all high school students indicate that they have vaped within the last 30 days this year.
JUUL has been accused of fueling the vaping epidemic in the United States, through the design and marketing of their product. The e-cigarettes were 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.
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.
Facing a criminal probe into the marketing activities directed at children, JUUL suspended all advertising in the United States recently, and it’s CEO resigned. Since then it has also ceased sales of all flavors except tobacco, menthol and mint.
If JUUL settlements are not reached during the proceedings before Judge Orrick, each individual case may eventually be transferred back to the originating U.S. District Courts for separate trial dates in the future.
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