A lawsuit filed against JUUL Labs in San Francisco district court has been amended to include claims that vaping puts youth at greater risk of developing severe complications from the coronavirus.
Lawyers amended the complaint April 6 as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sicken people in nearly every part of the world. On April 10, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 427,460 confirmed COVID-19 cases resulting in 14,696 deaths in the U.S.
“JUUL users are also at greater risk of suffering more serious complications if they contract the coronavirus,” the lawsuit states, according to Bloomberg.
The lawsuit seeks costs for medical monitoring “to allow for the timely treatment and prevention of exacerbation of injuries” caused by vaping, as well as punitive damages. The global tobacco giant Altria, which bought a 35% share of JUUL in 2018 for $12.8 billion, is also a defendant in the lawsuit.
JUUL faces a growing body of litigation from state and local governments, school districts, teens and their parents. As of Feb. 19, 2020, 331 JUUL federal lawsuits from around the country had been combined into multidistrict litigation (MDL) in a federal court in San Francisco, JUUL’s home city.
JUUL has managed to capture at least 75% of the U.S. vaping market in its relatively short life. The company has been widely condemned for peddling its products to kids and teens and igniting a youth vaping epidemic.
Lawsuits seeking to hold the company accountable underscore the dangers of nicotine addiction and some of the unique hazards vaping poses, including lung injuries, bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia and other lung diseases, seizures, hemorrhagic strokes (bleeding in the brain), and cognitive and emotional decline.
Last month, doctors in San Francisco sounded a warning over a possible connection between high rates of coronavirus among young people and vaping. Since then, evidence continues to grow that vaping puts kids and young adults at a higher risk of catching coronavirus and developing harsher symptoms.
Dr. Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Research Control and Education, has been one of the country’s leading anti-vaping crusaders for years. In early March, before the coronavirus took hold in the U.S., Dr. Glantz warned that “Reporting of respiratory symptoms by e-cigarette users suggests increased susceptibility to and/or delayed recovery from respiratory infections.”
Since then, as coronavirus infections continue to explode across the world, more and more doctors are finding evidence that vaping makes it easier to catch COVID-19 and harder to ward off its potentially deadly symptoms.
Beasley Allen lawyers Joseph VanZandt and Sydney Everett, together with Mass Torts Section Head Andy Birchfield, are currently representing several individuals, governments, and school districts suing JUUL over the costly youth vaping epidemic in the U.S.