How to File an E-cigarette or JUUL Lawsuit
The number of e-cigarette lawsuits has been growing with more reports of serious health issues related to their use. JUUL, an e-cigarette manufactured by JUUL Labs was first placed on the market in 2017 and has become one of the leading e-cigarette brands used by consumers. It is also one brand that is highly used by young adults between the ages of 16 and 21 and is now center focus in many health-related and product liability cases. In these cases, there is usually a medical condition that involves breathing difficulties or other lung-related complications. A nurse attorney is the appropriate law practitioner to approach if any of these medical issues appear.
Tobacco still remains the leading cause of preventable disease in the United States, and the use of tobacco and e-cigarettes can lead to disability and death. In the US nearly 40 million adults use tobacco and e-cigarette products with over 4.7 million students in middle school and high school also using these nicotine-based cigarettes. The focus on lawsuits involving young adults stems from the fact that each day over 2,000 youths smoke a cigarette or e-cigarette for the first time. Each year US adults spend over $170 billion in medical care related to illnesses connected to smoking.
The Development of the E-cigarette
The e-cigarette was first developed for the market in 2003 by a Chinese pharmacist, Hon Lik. Between 2005 and 2006 the e-cigarette became available to worldwide markets and now there are over 400 different brands for consumers. The JUUL brand of the e-cigarette was created in 2007 by James Moneses and Adam Bowen as a result of a design project at Stanford University.
They formed Ploom, Inc, and began to manufacture Pax, a model that was a popular device for the use of Cannabis. In 2015, Ploom, Inc. became Pax Labs and was sold to Japan Tobacco International, an original investor in the Ploom, Inc. company.
Immediately, Pax Labs spun off into the tobacco market and created the JUUL e-cigarette which uses nicotine as one of the major components in the brand. Most e-cigarette brands use nicotine in the vapors that are inhaled by the user, and that is why there is such a close connection to tobacco use.
What is an E-cigarette?
An e-cigarette comes in the form of a long plastic tube, a pipe, a cigar, or a pen. Some have even been made to resemble a flash drive for the computer as a way of appealing to a designated market. Most will have a heating element powered by a rechargeable battery that also powers the electronic circuits within the unit. The mouthpiece or cartridge is attached at one end.
The mouthpiece holds a small amount of liquid that is absorbed by material within the cartridge. The liquid can be changed to emit different tastes and smells when the e-cigarette is activated. JUUL company advertises tastes such as bubble-gum, menthol, and others that attract youthful buyers and cigarette smokers.
The user sucks on the mouthpiece which activates the electronic sensor, and the liquid in the cartridge is vaporized. The vapor is drawn into the mouth and inhaled giving the smoker the sensation of smoking a cigarette. “Vaping” is the term that the manufacturer has adopted to describe this sensation and the name has become part of the cultural nomenclature. Most people refer to smoking an e-cigarette, and in particular, a JUUL e-cigarette as “vaping.”
The Risks of “Vaping”
When the e-cigarette was designed it was promoted as another means to help people who currently smoke to kick the habit by slowly using less nicotine. There has been some research to indicate that this does work, but very little evidence that it actually curbs smoking cigarettes.
Many times the e-cigarette ends up being used in conjunction with regular tobacco. Because the manufacturer can regulate how much nicotine is in the liquid that is added to the cartridge, sometimes there is actually more nicotine in an e-cigarette than in a traditional tobacco variety.
What is even more dangerous is that young adults have picked up the e-cigarette habit thinking that there is no nicotine in the cigarette, and this can lead to the addiction of using regular tobacco. In 2018, 1 in 5 students reported using e-cigarettes during the previous month underlying the accusation that tobacco companies are targeting the young adult market to lead them to an addiction to nicotine and the use of regular tobacco products.
The health risks of e-cigarettes are unmistakable since most contain nicotine, and the Health and Drug Administration has documented the dangers of using nicotine. Although the user absorbs a lot fewer chemicals than the over 7,000 cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco, the fact that there are varying degrees of nicotine and accompanying other chemicals that are used in the manufacture and production of the e-cigarette unit has caused alarm. Since there are so many brands of e-cigarettes on the market it is difficult to determine what toxic chemicals might be included in different brands. The FDA has not agreed with the claim that e-cigarettes reduce the use of tobacco so there is much more to be learned.
Young people and other smokers who use e-cigarettes have complained about coughing, trouble breathing, and even chest pains. Other symptoms associated with smokers’ health issues include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. The American Cancer Society does not have enough information at this time to determine if there are long term effects of the use of these cigarettes because they have only been on the market for a short period of time. Most recently, however, the Trump administration moved to recommend a ban on all e-cigarettes sold with attractive flavors that might induce younger people to try them.
Some states have also passed legislation to prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, and in Michigan, this is now law. Other states like New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and California followed suit, and the City of San Francisco stopped the sale of flavored e-cigarettes earlier this year. On Monday, September 9, 2019, the FDA took action against JUUL stating that the company is violating federal regulations by claiming that JUUL e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes made with tobacco. JUUL Labs is opposing this position by the FDA and they are planning to place some kind of referendum on the California ballot in the fall of 2020.
On September 25, 2019, the Chief Executive and Founder of JUUL, Kevin Burns was replaced by K.C. Crosthwaite, an executive from the cigarette company Altria. The tobacco giant purchased a 35% share in JUUL for $12.8 billion last December.
All of this recent activity to protect the youth of the United States brings with it the option of filing either a product liability lawsuit or a medical lawsuit if you or a family member is a victim of the marketing employed by JUUL and the e-cigarette industry. The Law Firm of Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. is watching the developments in this debate, and they are ready to assist you with the latest information.
Steps to Filing a Lawsuit
People who are considering filing a lawsuit against JUUL or another e-cigarette manufacturer will usually do so because they have suffered some kind of health issue as a result of using the e-cigarettes. In most cases, this will be in the form of a product liability lawsuit and they will need to incorporate the services of a product liability attorney, but in the case of a medical lawsuit, they might also seek the advice of a nurse attorney who is familiar with both the medical and the legal issues.
If you decide to file a product liability lawsuit then you must be able to prove that the product was designed or manufactured with defects or that the product was distributed, and the dangers or defects were not fully disclosed to the consumer. In a medical lawsuit, you will have to establish a connection between the event causing the illness and that the illness is directly connected to the use of the product. A lawsuit against an e-cigarette manufacturer can fall into either category so it is best to seek legal advice.
If you have contracted an illness and you suspect that it might be related to smoking a JUUL or other kind of e-cigarette, then the first thing to do is to start writing down as much as you can remember about when you started using the cigarettes and why you chose to use them. If you still have samples of the kind of cigarette that made you ill preserve them in a safe place so that they can be closely examined and used as evidence in a case.
Your attorney will want to know about the product and where you obtained it. The attorney will begin an investigation into the contents of the e-cigarette, where it was manufactured, when it was manufactured, and the general history of the development of the particular brand that you were using. You might be asked to discuss with your attorney whether you were using any other drugs or stimulants while smoking the cigarette or whether you modified the cigarette in any way.
This is a very important step especially if you are involved with a situation where an e-cigarette exploded causing toxic gases to enter your lungs while inhaling. The percentage of nicotine in the cigarette, the type of flavoring, if any, and the size and type of the unit will all add to the success of the claim.
A product liability case or a medical liability case will both require the testimony from experts. In a situation where you are bringing a lawsuit against an e-cigarette company, your attorney will want to have expert medical and related scientific testimony based on the most recent observations and findings. A biochemical expert can testify to the possible presence of toxic chemicals that may have been present in the cigarette as well as to the probable health-related problems that could result from inhaling these fumes.
In Michigan, the state requires that any lawsuit for product liability be filed within 3 years of the event that caused the accident or problem. There is a very clear definition of the types of awards that can be made, and they include both economic and noneconomic categories. It is important to note that product liability statutes may not apply when:
1. The defendant had actual knowledge that a product was defective.
2. There was a substantial likelihood that it would cause the injury that is the basis for the claim.
3. The defendant willfully disregarded that knowledge.
A medical lawsuit can be filed if there are medical circumstances surrounding the use of a product, in this case, an e-cigarette, that leads to health issues that were not placed on the product with any kind of warning. In fact, it is alleged that the JUUL e-cigarette leads young people to believe that smoking a JUUL is safer than smoking a cigarette made with tobacco. These lawsuits involve young people who have become addicted to nicotine believing that there was no nicotine present in the e-cigarette that they smoked. Others involve serious illnesses that stem directly from the toxic chemicals in an e-cigarette.
The e-cigarette known as the JUUL e-cigarette because it is a very popular brand has been the most favorite e-cigarette on the market since 2017. Their advertising that smoking a JUUL is safer than smoking a tobacco product is now beginning to face product and medical liability lawsuits because the youth population is becoming addicted to smoking a result of this misleading advertising.
Others are developing serious illnesses due to other toxic chemicals in the makeup of various brands and types of e-cigarettes. If you have smoked a JUUL or another type of e-cigarette and you are experiencing health issues due to this practice, then you should immediately contact a nurse attorney like Eileen Kroll with the Law Offices of Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. to ask her to investigate your claim. Eileen is a registered nurse as well as an attorney and she is up to date on the latest court cases involving the e-cigarette dangers. Contact her at Cochranlaw.com or call her directly at 1-866-MICH-LAW (1-866-642-4529) for a free consultation.