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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal JUUL lawsuits has appointed a Settlement Master to oversee negotiations between the parties, and explore a potential early resolution for the growing number of cases being filed over vaping addictions that have plagued teens and young adults nationwide in recent years.
Hundreds of product liability lawsuits are being pursued by individuals who have now developed life-long nicotine addictions from JUUL, which were allegedly caused by false and misleading advertisements for the vaping pods that targeted teens and prior non-smokers. In addition, a number of school districts are also pursuing claims for damages that resulted from the vaping epidemic, which has disrupted classes and have diverted resources in recent years.
Given similar questions of fact and law presented in claims filed throughout the federal court system, about 600 lawsuits are currently 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.
In a Court Order (PDF) issued on May 18, Judge Orrick announced the appointment of Thomas J. Perrelli to the position of Settlement Master. The order indicates Perrelli is to facilitate JUUL settlement discussions among the parties as soon as possible.
Judge Orrick originally announced his intent to appoint Perrelli to the position in a Notice of Intent (PDF) issued on May 4, to which no party has objected.
“From the outset of these complex proceedings, I have noted my goal that they be resolved in as expeditions, efficient, and just manner as possible,” Judge Orrick wrote in the Notice of Intent. “To that end, I believe that the appointment of a Settlement Master to facilitate settlement discussions would serve the interests of justice and of the parties.”
JUUL Teen Addiction Problems
As JUULing addiction lawyers continue to review and file claims for teens and young adults in the coming months and years, the litigation is expected to continue to grow, likely to include thousands of complaints against the manufacturer fo the controversial vaping pod.
Plaintiffs allege that 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. In addition, the manufacturer sold JUUL pods in various candy-like flavors, without disclosing the high levels of nicotine and risk of addiction.
JUUL Labs has been accused of fueling the teen e-cigarette epidemic in the United States, resulting in new generation now addicted to nicotine.
As part of the consolidation into a MDL, it is expected that Judge Orrick will establish a “bellwether” process, where a small group of representative claims will be prepared for early trial dates to help the parties gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation. However, if the manufacturer fails to reach JUUL settlements or another resolution for the claims following the consolidated pretrial proceedings, each individual case may be remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trials in the future.