JUUL Labs E-Cigarette Youth Class Action Litigation

Langlois et al. v. JUUL Labs, Inc.
United States District Court, District of Massachusetts
Case No. 19-11967

Case Overview

Plaintiffs filed this complaint against JUUL Labs, Inc. on behalf of all persons in the United States who purchased e-cigarettes that were designed, manufactured, distributed, marketed, and sold by Defendant JUUL Labs, Inc. (“JUUL”) and were under the age of eighteen at the time of purchase.

Plaintiffs allege that JUUL is misrepresenting, concealing, and/or suppressing material facts concerning the JUUL device and its dangers and engaging in misleading, unfair, and unconscionable advertising that is targeted at and designed to appeal to a vulnerable segment of society, children and youth. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that JUUL is:

  • failing to disclose material information about the nicotine content, potency, and delivery of its products;
  • failing to disclose material information about the health risks posed by JUUL use;
  • manipulating the design of the JUUL e-cigarette and JUULpods to maximize the addictiveness of JUUL’s products;
  • unfairly designing JUUL’s advertisements to target minors and youth;
  • manipulating the design of the JUUL to maximize its appeal to minors and youth; and
  • manipulating and designing the JUUL to maximize its capacity to be concealed.

If you are concerned with your teen’s JUUL use or vaping habits, or if you started vaping as teen and are now addicted to nicotine, please contact Keller Rohrback at 800-776-6044 or via email at consumer@kellerrohrback.com discuss your concerns and potential legal claims.

Background

The JUUL is a type of e-cigarette—an electronic nicotine delivery system that heats liquid containing nicotine, flavoring, and chemicals into an aerosol that is inhaled. Nicotine is addictive and can harm an adolescent’s developing brain.

JUUL Labs, the e-cigarette manufacturer partially owned by Altria (NYSE:MO), the parent company of cigarette maker Philip Morris (NYSE:PM), has transformed the e-cigarette market since it launched in 2015. Dubbed the “iPhone of e-cigarettes,” JUUL’s device appeals to teenagers because of its sleek and sophisticated appearance and because it is small and easy to conceal.

JUUL also markets its products in flavors that are particularly appealing for kids and teenagers. The patented JUULpods come in flavors such as mango, fruit, cucumber, crème, and mint. But that is where the appeal ends. JUULpods contain 59 mg per ml of nicotine—roughly three times the nicotine limit in Europe—while utilizing acids that reduce the harshness associated with smoking and other e-cigarettes. The end result is a nicotine delivery system that, according to Truth Initiative, doubles the concentration and nearly triples the delivery speed of nicotine compared to the average e-cigarette.

JUUL’s rise in popularity has been meteoric. Over one million JUUL devices were sold between 2015 and 2017. JUUL Labs now controls 70% of the market and last year had retail sales of $942.6 million. In December 2018, Altria invested $12.8 billion to acquire a 35% stake in JUUL. Overnight, millions of teens became Philip Morris customers. JUUL, like Philip Morris before it, would have you believe that its products are only intended for adults. But according to researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, Juul’s advertising was “patently youth oriented” from the start with its vivid colors, youthful models, and candy-like flavors. In 2018 alone there was an 80% increase in high school students vaping and a 50% increase in middle school students using e-cigarettes. More than 20% of children under the age of 18 are using e-cigarettes, compared to less than 3% of adults. The Surgeon General has characterized e-cigarette use by youth as a public health epidemic.

Prior to JUUL’s launch, youth nicotine use had been on a steady decline: from 2000 to 2017, the smoking rate among high school students fell by 73%. That trend has now been completely reversed. Between 2017 and 2018 the number of American teenagers using any tobacco product has increased by nearly 40%, the largest single year increase in youth tobacco use ever. In 2018, more than one in four American high school students reported using a tobacco product in the past 30 days.

Congress informed JUUL Labs that the Surgeon General, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the former Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, and the Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) all pointed to JUUL Labs as a primary cause of youth e-cigarette epidemic. Multiple states have launched investigations of JUUL Labs, and in 2018 the FDA raided JUUL Lab’s headquarters. But while government regulators may force JUUL to change how it does business in the future, action needs to be taken on behalf of the millions of kids addicted to nicotine as a result of JUUL Lab’s products and business practices.

Case Documents

Class Action Complaint – 9/16/2019

If you would like more information regarding this case, please email us at consumer@kellerrohrback.com or call us toll free at 800.776.6044.

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