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“Lawsuit” May Be the Next Flavor for E-cigarettes

The Wild West of vape products may be nearing its end after a recent rash of e-cigarette-related injuries and fatalities. Now, the White House has moved to ban flavored products and vape lawsuits are on the rise. Will it be enough to slow a mushrooming epidemic of nicotine-addicted youth?

President Donald J. Trump, joined by First Lady Melania Trump, Acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Norman Sharpless and the Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, announces a plan to remove all flavored e-cigarette products from the market as quickly as possible Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, in the Oval Office of the White House. Photo: Andrea Hanks

In a White House briefing on September 11th, the President, together with the heads of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced the administration’s intent to ban flavored e-cigarettes, “as quickly as possible.” This was seemingly coordinated with a warning letter sent two days earlier to the popular vape device manufacturer JUUL Labs, reprimanding them for illegal marketing practices. The proposed ban targets the flavored versions of e-cigarettes because the product seems to be squarely aimed at kids, even though manufacturers deny that they are marketing to youngsters. The candy- and fruit-flavored e-cigarettes appeal to kids, who often don’t even realize that their sweet-tasting vape is potentially harmful to their health and addicting.

Concern over the dangerous effects of e-cigarettes is not new. A year-and-a-half ago, public health groups sued the FDA and HHS over their decision to delay e-cigarette product reviews. The suit — which named the individual heads of the agencies, the contemporaries of whom were with the President for the recent Oval Office announcement — predicted the current crisis. Burnett & Williams has also sounded the alarm, and will continue to follow this public health crisis. Today, 18 months after that lawsuit was filed, we are faced with an epidemic of nicotine-addicted youth, more than 450 people who have been sent to the hospital because of severe vaping-related lung injury, and a climbing number of deaths linked to vaping.

The individuals and families who have been injured, correctly see the executive action as an enhanced pathway for recovery of medical costs and suffering. No doubt these people are considering lawsuits, and either have retained or will need talented Personal Injury Lawyers.

Here’s a sample of what’s happening today with current and proposed litigation.

  • A class action suit has been filed in Florida federal court against Juul and Altria/Philip Morris, citing 1. Violation of RICO; 2. Fraud; 3. Strict Product Liability — Failure to Warn; 4. Strict Product Liability — Design Defect; 5. Negligence; 6. Unjust Enrichment; 7. Violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. (article)
  • North Carolina has announced lawsuits against 8 e-cigarette companies, to add to a lawsuit previously filed against JUUL Labs earlier in the year. (article)
  • A school district in Kansas says they’re preparing to file a lawsuit that targets e-cigarettes and the vaping industry after their state’s first vaping related death, citing protection of youth health and education amidst the nuisance of daily school disruption. (article)
  • Illinois officials from Lake County have filed a suit accusing JUUL Labs of “intentionally pushing teens to become hooked on nicotine-aided e-cigarettes through deceptive marketing campaigns.” (article)
  • A New Jersey family has filed a class action lawsuit against JUUL Labs, for getting teens addicted to nicotine through false advertising, targeting young people, and withholding critical health data. (article)
  • An Indiana family is suing Juul Labs accusing it of making a product with excessively high levels of nicotine and failing to warn of its addictive properties. (article)

We predict there’ll be many more product liability suits to come, and regrettably with the investigation into the vaping-related fatalities, we also expect to see a progression of Wrongful Death cases once the exact cause has been identified. If you or someone you know has questions or concerns about a vaping-related injury, we’d be happy to talk with you; you can call us anytime at 800-969-1650, or contact us. We’re always here for you.