SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The national plaintiffs’ law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP announces the filing of three separate injury and fraud lawsuits on behalf of teenagers from California and Illinois against JUUL Labs, Inc. in Superior Court in San Francisco. The suits bring claims for a variety of lung and cardiovascular injuries as well as common claims for strict products liability, design defects, failure to warn, negligence, failure to recall, fraudulent concealment, intentional misrepresentation, and violations of California Unfair Competition Laws as well as violations of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act.
The Plaintiffs and Their Injuries
Plaintiff Aliona Brichkov was a healthy and active 18-year-old college student who suffered spontaneous lung collapse on May 29, 2019, in Marin County, California, after becoming addicted to JUUL, an electronic nicotine delivery system (“ENDS”) or e-cigarette. The complaint highlights Juul’s wrongful conduct in marketing, promoting, manufacturing, advertising, designing, and selling JUUL substantially contributed to Ms. Brichkov’s serious and devastating injuries.
Plaintiff Tonatiuh Franco was an active and ambitious 19-year-old college student who suffered a stroke on May 6, 2019, in Cook County, Illinois, after becoming addicted to JUUL, an electronic nicotine delivery system or e-cigarette. As detailed in the complaint, Juul’s wrongful conduct in marketing, advertising, promoting, manufacturing, designing, and selling JUUL substantially contributed to Mr. Franco’s serious injuries.
Plaintiff Tamara McMullan brings suit individually and on behalf of her minor child K.B., victim of Juul’s orchestrated efforts to addict a new generation of teenagers to nicotine. Although K.B. only 16 years old, she has already suffered not one, but two seizures as a result of using JUUL. This extreme outcome, particularly in her vulnerable, developing brain, has resulted in a serious injury. As the complaint notes, Juul’s wrongful conduct in marketing, promoting, manufacturing, designing and selling JUUL substantially contributed to K.B.’s life-altering injuries.
Nature of the Injury and Fraud Claims
As detailed in each of the filed complaints, plaintiffs allege that Juul,
“set out to recapture the magic of the most successful product ever made—the cigarette. Due to regulations and court orders preventing the major cigarette manufacturers from marketing to young people, youth smoking had decreased to its lowest levels in decades. While the public health community celebrated this decline as a victory, JUUL saw an opportunity. Seizing on regulatory inaction and loopholes for e-cigarettes, JUUL set out to develop and market a highly addictive product that could be packaged and sold to young people. Youth is and has always been the most sought-after market for cigarette companies, because they are the most vulnerable to nicotine addiction and are most likely to become customers for life.”
As the complaints go on to note,
JUUL was designed perfectly for teenagers. It doesn’t look or smell like a cigarette. It is a sleek, high-tech youth-friendly battery-powered device that looks like a USB drive. The JUUL device heats a nicotine-filled liquid JUUL pod, sold separately in fun flavors like mango and cool mint, delivering powerfully potent doses of nicotine, along with aerosol and other toxic chemicals into the lungs, body and brain. Unlike noxious cigarette smoke, when a JUUL user exhales, the smoke is undetectable. JUUL is small, easily concealable and can be used practically anywhere without parents or teachers knowing; Googling “hiding JUUL in school” or “how to ghost rip JUUL” returns hundreds of videos on how to JUUL anywhere without detection. This is part of the appeal, fostered and bolstered by JUUL’s viral marketing campaigns using young models and popular young celebrities to make the products look cool and stylish.
Simply put, the complaints allege that Juul Labs designed the JUUL e-cigarettes to addict young people, leveraging nicotine, one of the most addictive chemicals in existence.
By studying cigarette industry archives, JUUL learned how to manipulate the nicotine in its products to maximize addictiveness, particularly among new users and young people, and thereby increase sales. JUUL designed its products to have maximum inhale-ability, without any “throat hit” or irritation that would serve as a natural deterrent to new users. The sole purpose of this design element was to initiate new smokers, since those who already smoke cigarettes are tolerant to the throat hit sensation and associate it with smoking and nicotine satisfaction. At the same time, JUUL designed its device to deliver substantially higher concentrations of nicotine per puff than traditional cigarettes and most other e-cigarettes. This combination of ease of inhalation and high nicotine delivery makes JUUL both powerfully addictive and dangerous.
As has been well-documented time and again over the last several decades, nicotine is highly dangerous, particularly to young people whose brains are still developing through age 25. Nicotine is not only addictive, but also permanently alters the structure of the brain and causes permanent mood changes and other cognitive disorders. Several studies, including one recently released by the American Stroke Association, have shown that e-cigarettes increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and coronary artery disease. Other studies have shown that e-cigarettes containing nicotine significantly increase blood pressure, heart rate and arterial stiffness, and also cause vascular damage, which can lead to strokes and other cardiovascular injuries.
Relief Sought in the Lawsuits
The lawsuits each seek compensatory, restitutional, consequential, punitive, and exemplary damages from Juul, as well as injunctions against Juul from selling JUUL products to minors.
For more information, visit the Juul injuries page on our website.
About Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
Recognized as “one of the nation’s premier plaintiffs’ firms” by The American Lawyer and as a “Plaintiffs’ Powerhouse” by Law360, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP is a 95-plus attorney law firm with offices in San Francisco, New York, and Nashville. Our firm has successfully represented tens of thousands of injured individuals in complex and mass tort litigation, and thousands of patients across America in individual lawsuits over the injuries they suffered from defective medical devices and dangerous prescription drugs. Five times in the last eight years, U.S. News and Best Lawyers have named Lieff Cabraser as their “Law Firm of the Year” for representing plaintiffs in class actions and mass torts.