At this point, news of lawsuits filed against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs over its marketing practices and claims of youth targeting is nothing new. Long criticized for the lengths it went to target the young, a recent onslaught of lawsuits has thrust those marketing tactics directly into the spotlight.
The recent outbreak of vaping-related illnesses hasn’t helped Juul’s situation. And, while scientists still work to determine the actual cause of a sickness that has hospitalized over 1,000 and killed more than 20 across the country, media outlets and U.S. government agencies have done little to separate nicotine vapes like Juul from black market THC vape pods – the compound in marijuana responsible for the drug’s high.
In some cases, those stricken with the vaping-related illness have denied any such THC use. They place blame for their sickness solely on their use of nicotine pods. And, in some of those cases, the illnesses they report have been severe.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tells of a woman in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania who suffered two seizures while using a Juul to consume nicotine. The plaintiff in the case claims that she had the seizures in June and July of this year and both came just 30 minutes after using her Juul. The second seizure, according to the lawsuit, left her permanently injured and she has been diagnosed with “short-term memory loss, mood shifts, and [a] permanent altering of her brain.” Her lawsuit asserts that Juul “never warned [her] that Juul e-cigarettes were dangerous, contained more nicotine than advertised, could cause her to suffer a seizure, or would permanently alter her brain.”
A Florida mother, meanwhile, has filed the first lawsuit that blames the device for a death. According to the lawsuit, Lisa Marie Vail lost her son Daniel David Wakefield when Wakefield “died in his sleep at the age of 18 after years of Juul use.” U.S. News and World Report writes that Wakefield’s mother claims that he started using a Juul at age 15 due to his exposure to the company’s advertising. As a result, Wakefield, an asthmatic, became “intensely addicted” to nicotine and “his emotional well-being was substantially altered.” He was hospitalized for breathing and lung complications less a year after starting to use a Juul and in August of 2018, after a day of strenuous physical labor, he died of “breathing complications.” Vail’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages against the company for the death of her son.