Stark & Stark Shareholder and member of the Accident & Personal Injury Group Domenic Sanginiti filed two complaints with jury demands, one in Superior Court of New Jersey, and the second in U.S. District Court in Trenton, New Jersey, against JUUL Labs, Inc. The complaints allege that JUUL, the e-cigarette manufacturer, marketed its products toward minors without disclosing its related health risks, including nicotine addiction. Specific charges against JUUL include products liability, failure to warn, fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, intentional misrepresentation of the products and their risks, as well as negligence in promoting and selling to young people under age 26. The complaint states the rampant usage of JUUL among adolescents created a public health crisis. This case seeks punitive damages to hold JUUL responsible for maliciously marketing its products toward minors.
The first case, filed on August 12 and removed to U.S. District Court in Trenton, New Jersey, is S.R., vs. JUUL Labs, Inc., PAX Labs, Inc., Altria Group, Inc., and Philip Morris USA, Inc. (Complaint available upon request.)
The second case filed on August 13 in U.S. District Court in Trenton, New Jersey is P.O. vs. JUUL Labs, Inc., PAX Labs, Inc., Altria Group, Inc., and Philip Morris USA, Inc. (Complaint available upon request.)
“JUUL’s irresponsible and intentional marketing toward teenagers has been predatory since the company launched,” Sanginiti said. “JUUL deliberately used social media and viral marketing campaigns to lure teenagers into using its dangerous product. The complaint includes multiple examples of these advertisements in which JUUL directly promoted to our teenagers while intentionally failing to disclose the serious health consequences related to its product. This deception and complete disregard for the health of our children must be stopped.”
Sanginiti added, “One of the plaintiffs is currently a nineteen-year-old New Jersey resident who first tried JUUL when it was offered to him at his high school. He thereafter began using and purchasing JUUL vaping products at the age of 16, favoring the Fruit Medley and Mango flavors. Due to JUUL’s marketing tactics, he was unaware of the dangers associated with the use of nicotine or the extent and severity of addiction it would cause. JUUL never stated on its packaging that it was an age-restricted product and unsafe for anyone under the age of 26. Consequently, the plaintiff quickly became severely addicted to nicotine and was ‘JUULing’ up to a pod per day, the nicotine equivalent of a pack of cigarettes.”
The second plaintiff is a twenty-year-old New Jersey resident who also tried JUUL in high school, and began purchasing JUUL vaping products at age 17, favoring the Mango and “Cool” Mint flavors, and “JUULing” up to two pods per day. He now has a nicotine addiction.
Seven federal cases have been filed in Alabama, California, Florida, and New York, five of which involve plaintiffs who are teenagers.
According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2018 — which is double the amount from the year before. The CDC reports that teen vaping increased by 78% between 2017 to 2018.
JUUL is a small, discreet USB-shaped e-cigarette. It works similar to other e-cigarette devices, but has several features that make it different and more dangerous. JUUL has high levels of nicotine, with one JUUL pod is being equivalent to the nicotine of 20 cigarettes. “Some teenagers are vaping several JUUL pods per day,” noted Sanginiti.
In addition, the liquid in JUUL pods contains nicotine salts from tobacco leaves, which accelerate nicotine absorption. Moreover, JUUL’s chemicals deliver toxins and carcinogens that have been shown to cause major health risks, including but not limited to pulmonary issues, heart issues, strokes, brain function loss, and cancer.
“What we are seeing with JUUL is essentially Big Tobacco 2.0,” explained Sanginiti. “Parents, children, educators, and community leaders need to see what is really going on with this product and its manufacturer. Awareness and education are critical. Do parents know that the Altria Group Inc., owner of Philip Morris USA Inc. which sells the country’s most popular cigarette Marlboro, has a 35% stake in JUUL, or that JUUL now controls approximately 75% of the e-cigarette market and has an estimated valuation of $38 billion? This product is marketed just like cigarettes from decades ago, and JUUL is essentially copying the advertising tactics of Big Tobacco, using the same fraudulent and deceptive practices that exploit teenagers.”
“Physicians and addiction specialists are becoming more vocal about JUUL as the communities see more health problems in their teenagers. Young people using JUUL may face a lifetime of medical problems, as well as damage to their developing brains from nicotine and nicotine addiction. For parents, this can be a very difficult and frustrating experience as they watch their child cause potential short and long-term harm to themselves. We see how serious this is and want to help parents and children hold JUUL accountable,” said Sanginiti.
Stark & Stark is currently offering public seminars to educate young people and parents about the dangers of JUUL products. Inquiries for the seminars can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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