JUUL Facing Class Claims For Targeting Teens

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

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On July 19, 2019, a group of young adults filed suit against the popular vape pen manufacturer, JUUL, in California state Superior Court, County of San Francisco, alleging that the company targets nonsmoking youth with their marketing tactics in order to create a new generation of life-long nicotine addicts.In the complaint, named plaintiffs 20-year-old Lindsey Chapman, 18-year-old Justin Meir and 19- year-old Jared Pitts, alleged that they have developed severe nicotine addictions as a result of the defendant’s orchestrated efforts to addict a new generation of teenagers to nicotine. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant used its marketing techniques to lure teenagers into using JUUL pens by creating a product that is approximately the size and shape of a pack of gum and looks similar to a USB drive, making it easy to hide from teachers and parents. In addition, the product lacks the distinctive odor and lingering smoke plume of traditional cigarettes. JUUL pens work by heating a nicotine-filled JUUL pod, which is sold separately and comes in flavors like mango and cool mint, and delivers potent doses of nicotine, along with aerosol and other toxic chemicals, into the lungs, body and brain when inhaled.

Plaintiffs argued that the defendant company seized upon regulatory inaction and loopholes surrounding e-cigarettes to develop and market a highly addictive product that could be packaged and sold to a previously untapped market. The complaint notes that due to regulations and court orders, which previously prevented major cigarette companies from marketing to young people, the teenage market has been left largely untouched for several years. The plaintiffs further argued that JUUL carefully studied cigarette industry archives in order to learn how to manipulate the nicotine in its products to maximize addictiveness, particularly among new users. The suit claims that JUUL further designed its products to have maximum inhalation without any “throat hit.” Plaintiffs argued that the combination of ease of inhalation and a high level of nicotine delivery makes JUUL both powerfully addictive and dangerous to users.

The suit brings causes of action for strict product liability, design defect, failure to warn, negligence and gross negligence, negligent failure to recall, fraudulent concealment, conspiracy to commit fraudulent concealment, intentional misrepresentation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of the unfair competition law.

The case is: Lindsey Chapman et al. v. Juul Labs Inc. et al., Case No.: CGC-19-577789, in the Superior Court of the State of California County of San Francisco.

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