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JUUL and other e-cigarette manufacturers face a class action lawsuit pursuing damages for individuals who have become addicted to vaping, or who have fallen ill due to use of the devices.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by Shawn Hochhauser in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on October 1, naming JUUL Labs, Inc. Altria Group, Inc. and Philip Morris USA Inc. as defendants.
Hochhauser is seeking class action status to pursue damages for all New York state citizens injured by electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). It also seeks to represent anyone in the state who, at least one time, purchased vaping products under the age of 18.
The lawsuit indicates the actions of the manufacturers led to a vaping addiction epidemic in the United States, leading to widespread underage use and various adverse health effects.
“Defendants’ unlawful practices have led to an epidemic of individuals addicted to e-cigarettes and vaping, to their severe detriment,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants based their conduct on decades of research by the tobacco industry about how to manipulate individuals into becoming addicted to their nicotine-containing products.”
The lawsuit calls the marketing of JUUL and other e-cigarette products deceptive and fraudulent. It also blames the manufacturers for failing to adequately test and research their products, pointing to an ongoing vaping pulmonary lung disease outbreak which has sickened more than 1000 people nationwide.
Due to increasing concerns about the potential side effects of JUUL and use among teens, the manufacturer recently announced that it will suspend all broadcast, print and digital marketing in the United States.
In addition to lung problems from vaping and addiction problems, federal regulators are also investigating other health concerns. In August 2019, the FDA indicated it had received at least 127 reports of seizures from vaping, and it is widely expected that number has risen dramatically in recent months as consumer awareness has increased about the dangers of e-cigarettes.
Last week, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decided to consolidate all JUUL lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system, centralizing the litigation before one judge in California for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
As more parents and young adults learn that their JUUL addiction and various lung problems may have been caused by a coordinated marketing effort by the manufacturer, it is widely expected that thousands of claims will be filed nationwide.
This latest class action lawsuit presents claims for negligence, violations of New York General Business laws, fraud, failure to warn, defective design, unjust enrichment, breach of warranty and public nuisance, seeking both compensatory and punitive damages.