Beasley Allen has filed three lawsuits on behalf of individuals severely addicted to nicotine as a result of using vaping devices the manufacturers marketed as safe. The lawsuits allege JUUL, Altria Group, Philip Morris USA, Inc., and other defendants aggressively and fraudulently marketed JUUL vaping devices and products, specifically targeted youth and teens and failed to warn of the products’ highly addictive levels of nicotine. The plaintiffs are represented by Beasley Allen lawyers Andy Birchfield, who is head of the firm’s Mass Torts Section, Jere Beasley, Joseph VanZandt and Sydney Everett.
“JUUL borrowed from ‘big tobacco’s marketing handbook and has profited by creating a new generation of nicotine addicts,” said VanZandt. “Just when we thought our country had a hold on the nicotine epidemic, vaping device makers like JUUL burst on the scene and made their products appealing for younger users. They targeted our kids on social media and lied to them about the dangers of vaping. JUUL must answer for its role in unleashing a new epidemic along with big tobacco companies that are now conspiring with them.”
Modern vaping devices entered the market in the mid-2000s and were promoted to adult smokers to stop smoking traditional cigarettes and tobacco products. However, in 2015, JUUL brand vaping devices were introduced and targeted younger generations through shrewd and aggressive social media campaigns, capturing 75% of the vape market.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows that high school students using vaping devices soared from 1.5% to 13.4% between 2011 and 2014. According to the CDC, that rate has jumped to 21% in 2018. During the same time period, vaping among middle school students increased from 0.6% to 3.9%. A corresponding increase in advertising for these products occurred at the same time, climbing from $6.4 million in 2011 to approximately $115 million in 2014.
The lawsuits contend that JUUL spurred the new epidemic in a number of ways.
- It intentionally designed its vaping devices to mimic USB flash drives so that young users can easily conceal it from parents and teachers.
- JUUL uses a variety of candy-flavored vaping products to appeal to unsuspecting and younger customers.
- Despite knowing its products were designed to create and sustain nicotine addiction, it deceptively promoted its products as “non-addictive nicotine delivery systems, or less addictive nicotine products than cigarettes.”
In addition to excessively high amounts of nicotine, JUUL’s flavored refillable inserts also contain other toxic chemicals, further intensifying the dangers to young users.
Lawsuits have been filed on behalf of the following individuals:
Hallie Helms began using JUUL brand vaping devices when she was 17 years old and was not aware of the high level of nicotine content in JUUL brand products. She has developed an extreme nicotine addiction and explained that her friends even call her a “JUUL fiend.” The addiction is so severe that if she cannot “hit her JUUL,” Helms gets extreme headaches and irritable. She has never smoked a traditional cigarette and can never see herself trying one. She also said she never would have tried JUUL if it only came in tobacco flavor. Helms’ lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Barbour County, Alabama, case number 69-CV-2019-900042.00. Lawyers from Penn & Seaborn, LLC are also representing Helms.
In the fall of 2017, Brian Bentley’s son began “JUULing” at the age of 16. He admitted to Brian that he first tried JUUL in the bathroom at his high school after his friend gave the JUUL to him. He became extremely addicted and developed deceptive behavioral issues he had never experienced. Brian explained that his son also developed more aggressive behavior that led to fights at school. Out of options for how to handle his son’s behavior, Brian sent him to military school earlier this year. His son continues to struggle with his nicotine addiction. The lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court for Limestone County case number 44-CV-2019-900271.00.
Savannah West had a similar experience. She began “JUULing” in 2016 when she was 17 years old. West had never smoked a cigarette but after becoming addicted to nicotine from using JUUL brand vaping devices, she then started smoking cigarettes to help fight nicotine withdrawals when she couldn’t afford vaping pods. As a result of her severe addiction, West would take 15-20 restroom breaks during work. A year later, West quit cold turkey and landed in the hospital when her withdrawal symptoms led to suicidal thoughts. She continues to struggle with addiction and mental health problems she believes she developed while using JUUL. West’s case is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, case number 44-CV-2019-900271.00. Lawyers from Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. are also representing West.
Negative health consequences of vaping also include seizures and nicotine poisoning. Beasley Allen lawyers continue investigating cases involving JUUL brand vaping devices.
The News Courier – Lawsuit filed against JUUL in Limestone County
WHNT News19 – Limestone County dad files lawsuit against Juul hoping to stop teen vaping epidemic