JUUL Lawsuit Over Teen’s Vaping Addiction Headed Before Jury in June 2022

The first bellwether case involves claims that a minor who became addicted to JUUL vaping products suffered depression, anxiety and breathing problems as a result.

The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal JUUL lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system has scheduled the first injury claim to go before a jury this summer, involving claims brought over a teen who became addicted to vaping following marketing campaigns that targeted children through social media.

JUUL labs faces more than 3,300 product liability lawsuits brought by families nationwide, each raising similar allegations that the company has engaged in a coordinated effort to market their popular e-cigarettes toward teens and prior non-smokers, to create a new generation of customers with a life-long nicotine addictions.

Given common questions of fact and law raised in complaints brought throughout the federal court system, the JUUL litigation is currently centralized before U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick III in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.

Early in the proceedings, Judge Orrick acknowledged the serious public health questions raised by the JUUL lawsuits and established an aggressive “bellwether” process, where a small group of six personal injury cases have prepared for early trial dates, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.

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In an order (PDF) issued on February 28, Judge Orrick outlined the pretrial schedule for the first bellwether JUUL trial, involving claims brought by Robin Bain, on behalf of herself and her minor child, identified only as B.B.

The lawsuit indicates Bain’s child became addicted to JUUL vaping products after she began using them in March 2018, resulting in angry outbursts, mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety and an inability to concentrate. The lawsuit also indicates B.B. developed respiratory problems including asthma, shortness of breath and bronchitis due to side effects of vaping

Orrick’s order sets a pretrial conference for May 9, and indicates that jury selection in the case will to begin on June 16, 2022.

JUUL Nicotine Addiction Concerns

JUUL pods were just introduced in 2015, and quickly became the most popular form of nicotine exposure among teens and young adults in the United States.

Marketing efforts by the manufacturer have been blamed for fueling the teen vaping epidemic, which has caused widespread disruption in schools, additional costs for local municipalities and left young adults addicted to high levels of nicotine in each JUUL pod, often leading to smoking and long-term health concerns.

The JUUL vape pens were designed to look like USB drives, allowing teens to hide their vaping habit from parents and school officials. The pods were also sold in a variety of candy-like flavors intended to appeal to prior non-smokers, and the manufacturer targeted teens through social media and other efforts that failed to disclose the high levels of nicotine, which may cause life-long addiction problems.

While the outcomes of these early bellwether trials will not be binding on other claims pending in the federal court system, they will be closely watched and may greatly influence any JUUL settlements offered by the manufacturer to avoid the need for hundreds of individual trial dates to be scheduled in different U.S. District Courts nationwide in the coming years.


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