SARASOTA Co., Fla. — A Ft. Lauderdale law firm has filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of a 15-year-old teen they say is addicted to JUUL e-cigarettes.
The plaintiffs are her parents, Erin NesSmith and Jared NesSmith. The teen is identified in the lawsuit by initials A.N.
The defendants are Juul Labs Inc., Altria Group Inc., and Philip Morris USA Inc.
The suit identified seven causes on why JUUL harmed its consumers:
- Violation of the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)
- Failure to warn
- Design defects
- Unjust enrichment
- Violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act
According to the lawsuit, A.N. began using and buying JUUL vaping products when she was 14. She was unaware JUUL contained nicotine. She has, at times, experienced seizures after using her e-cigarette and would unintentionally swallow the e-liquid continued inside. The suit alleged JUUL harmed A.N. by exposing her to significant toxic substances, nicotine addiction and through economic harm. The suit states she would not have purchased JUUL had she known the true facts.
Erin and Jared NesSmith did not know their daughter had an e-cig when they saw the device in her school backpack, according to the lawsuit. Based on design, they thought it was a computer USB drive.
“They fear JUUL, Altria and Philip Morris are working in concert to market and advertise JUUL to youth and teenagers and the Defendants’ association and marketing effort increase the likelihood that their minor children will begin using e-cigarettes and become addicted,” stated the suit.
Furthermore, the suit alleges, A.N. is addicted to JUUL and suffers from seizures considered a complication of nicotine ingestion. The Food & Drug Administration announced in early April 2019 that it is studying the potential link between seizures and e-cigarettes.
According to the CDC, e-cigarette use increased 78% among high school students and 48% among middle school students from 2017-2018. A Wells-Fargo report, found JUUL owns three-quarters of the e-cigarette market. It’s revenue grew by 700% in 2017. The company launched in 2015.
RICO VIOLATION The suit alleges JUUL and co-defendants had “goals to deceive consumers by claiming they did not market to children while engaging in marketing and advertising with the intent of addicting children into becoming lifetime nicotine users.”
FRAUD The suit alleges JUUL fraudulently and deceptively sold or partnered to sell JUUL products as less addictive nicotine products than cigarettes when “defendants knew it to be untrue. “
FAILURE TO WARN The lawsuit accuses JUUL of “intentionally downplayed, misrepresented, concealed and failed to warn of the heightened risks of nicotine exposure and addiction.”
DESIGN DEFECT The suit calls JUUL products “inherently defective.” It claims they deliver more nicotine than the company lets people know about.
NEGLIGENCE The suit accuses the company of failing to ensure that its marketing does not target children and that their products are not designed in a way to attract minors.
UNJUST ENRICHMENT The suit alleges the defendants were “enriched at expense of plaintiffs.”
VIOLATION OF FLORIDA’S DECEPTIVE AND UNFAIR PRACTICES ACT The suit accuses defendants of “having knowingly developed, sold, and promote a product that contained nicotine levels in excess of cigarettes with the intention of creating and fostering long-term addiction to JUUL products for minors to continue that addiction into adulthood.”
We reached out to JUUL for comment. At this time, we have not heard back.
If you're interested in reading the lawsuit, click here.