By Kathleen Bianco, J.D.
Complaint alleges that the electronic nicotine delivery system manufacturer targeted minors and failed to warn consumers of known risks.
An individual who allegedly was addicted to JUUL, an e-cigarette, and who claims to have suffered severe and permanent personal injuries, pain, suffering, and emotional distress as a result of his e-cigarette use, filed a lawsuit in a federal district court in Michigan against JUUL Labs, Inc. and Pax Labs, Inc. The complaint alleges that the defendants used fraudulent and deceptive marketing practices to sell their dangerous and addictive products to teens and young adults. The suit also asserts claims for strict liability design defect, strict liability failure to warn, and negligence (Shadi v. JUUL Labs, Inc., December 6, 2019).
The plaintiff, a 19-year-old man, began purchasing and using JUUL vaping products when he was 15 or 16. According to the complaint, the plaintiff’s use of the JUUL vaping products resulted in his addiction to nicotine and has led to permanent and lasting injuries, physical pain, and mental anguish, as well as a need for lifelong medical treatment, monitoring and/or medications, and fear of developing any of the known health consequences associated with nicotine use. The suit against the entities involved in the manufacture, distribution, sale, and marketing of the JUUL vaping products alleges that the products are defectively designed and that the manufacturers knew that the ordinary use of the products was harmful, especially to teens and young adults, but failed to provide sufficient warnings. The complaint asserts negligence, negligence per se, strict liability (design defect and failure to warn), fraud, breach of express and implied warranties, fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, fraud, and deceptive practices claims.
Allegations. As to the negligence claim, the complaint contends that the defendants had a duty to exercise a reasonable degree of care in the development and marketing of their product and that they breached this duty by using marketing that was geared towards young adults and by failing to warn of the risk of nicotine addiction. The defendants’ alleged negligence included: (1) failing to adequately and correctly warn the public of the dangers of JUUL; (2) negligently advertising and recommending the use of JUUL to minors; and (3) concealing information regarding the higher risk of nicotine addiction in adolescents. The plaintiff asserts that as a direct and proximate result of the manufacturers’ negligence, he suffered damages when he purchased and used an unsafe product.
In support of the strict liability claims, the complaint alleges that: (1) the product was defective; (2) the defect existed at the time the product left the manufacturers’ control; and (3) the defect was not discoverable by consumers. The complaint further maintains that the defendants knew or should have known of the defective condition and the risks associated with the use of the product and that they failed to warn consumers. Due to the manufacturers’ failure to remedy the defective condition of their product, consumers continue to be at risk of incurring damages to their person arising from use of the JUUL products, the complaint alleges.
Relief sought. The plaintiff demands a jury trial and requests the awarding of actual, compensatory, consequential, and punitive damages, along with restitution, reasonable attorney fees, pre- and post-judgment interest, court costs, and any other relief deemed appropriate by the court.
The case is No. 4:19-cv-13600-MFL-MJH.
Attorneys: Paul F. Novak (Weitz & Luxenburg, P.C.) for Mohammed Shadi.
Companies: JUUL Labs, Inc.; Pax Labs, Inc.
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