The litigation against vape device manufacturer JUUL continues to grow exponentially. This is an extremely important litigation for the health and safety of an entire generation of young people in this country. Beasley Allen is honored to be at the forefront of this important litigation.
There are several different types of state and federal lawsuits that constitute the JUUL litigation:
- Individual personal injury cases;
- Class action cases;
- School district cases;
- County or municipality cases; and
- Attorney general cases.
The Federal MDL
The JUUL multidistrict litigation (MDL) was formed on Oct. 2, 2019, and assigned to Judge William Orrick in the Northern District of California. The MDL consists of individual personal injury cases, school district public nuisance cases, county and municipality cases, and class action cases. Approximately 300 cases have already been filed in or transferred to the MDL; thousands of additional cases are expected. JUUL Labs, Altria, Phillip Morris, and PAX Labs are currently Defendants in the MDL. Judge Orrick recently appointed a 21-attorney Plaintiff Steering Committee – including Beasley Allen’s Joseph VanZandt – to lead the litigation on behalf of Plaintiffs nationwide.
JCCP – California State Court Litigation
JUUL also faces an active consolidated litigation in California state court. Judge Ann Jones of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County has been assigned to manage the California state court litigation against JUUL, which also contains dozens of individual, class action, and school district cases against JUUL. An active Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding (JCCP) litigation against JUUL in Los Angeles means that JUUL will likely face multiple trials in federal court in San Francisco and state court in Los Angeles. Judge Jones held an initial hearing on Jan. 28, 2020, and is expected to appoint Plaintiff leadership for the JCCP soon.
School District Litigation
In the past several months, Beasley Allen lawyers have been engaged in conversations with teachers, principals, superintendents and school boards about the impact of JUUL and vaping on our children and our schools. Universally, our public schools have a mandate to deliver educational services in an atmosphere that is safe, healthy and conducive to learning. Because JUUL has exposed a new generation of children to record levels of nicotine addiction, schools are being uniquely impacted and have been forced to incur a multitude of costs to address this problem and are also faced with the challenge of how to remedy and abate the situation.
Rather than continue to be victimized, dozens of school districts around the country have turned to the legal system to hold JUUL accountable for the harm inflicted upon our educational environment. Beasley Allen has already filed multiple cases on behalf of school districts. The school district cases are poised to play a key role in both the MDL and California state court litigations against JUUL.
State Attorney General Suits
Similar to suits filed in the opioid litigations, JUUL Labs is facing claims from a growing number of state attorneys general, including in North Carolina, New York, California, Illinois and Washington D.C., in state court on behalf of state residents. In the suits, the AGs argue that JUUL’s aggressive advertising of its multi-flavored products contributed to a public health crisis that has left countless state residents, many of whom are teenagers, addicted to its products and fighting for their health.
These suits point out the fact that in 2010, the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that nicotine has the same effect on the brain as cocaine and heroin. The suits further allege that even infrequent use of nicotine products is enough to put teens at risk for addiction due to the fact that their brains are still developing and are therefore prone to nicotine addiction at a much lower concentration than in adults older than 26. AG suits also point out that in 2016 roughly one-third of surveyed teens reported that they thought JUUL products were harmless. It is further argued that JUUL has seized upon Big Tobacco’s advertising and flavoring tactics allowing it to profit at the expense of the health of state residents.
The suits are:
- State of North Carolina v. Juul Labs, Inc., in the Superior Court of Durham County North Carolina.
- People of the State of New York v. Juul Labs Inc. in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York.
- People of the State of California v. Juul Labs Inc. in the Alameda County Superior Court.
- People of the State of Illinois v. Juul Labs Inc., Case No.: 2019CH14302, in the Circuit Court of Cook County.
- District of Columbia v. Juul Labs, Inc. and Pax Labs, Inc., in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
Beasley Allen lawyers Joseph VanZandt and Sydney Everett, together with Mass Torts Section Head Andy Birchfield, are currently representing several individuals who are suing the top U.S. vape maker JUUL for the negative impact its products have had on their lives. Additionally, they have filed dozens of lawsuits on behalf of school districts nationwide, which seek to protect students from nicotine addiction and recover resources spent fighting the vaping epidemic.
This story appears in the February 2020 issue of The Jere Beasley Report. For more like this, visit the Report online and subscribe.