Juul Labs announced Tuesday that it has agreed to settle about 5,000 lawsuits in a Northern California court case for an undisclosed amount. One more thing A legal battle over the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes has fueled the teenage vaping crisis.
The proposed settlement of the multidistrict litigation would close personal injury, consumer class action, state and Native American tribal lawsuits in a deal the company said it received an investment to fund.
“These settlements are an important step in strengthening Zool Labs’ operations and protecting the company’s path toward fulfilling its mission to transition adult smokers away from combustible cigarettes,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.
In September, the company Settled three dozen states for $438.5 million That investigation focused on early marketing of its products, including the use of young models and the sale of flavors such as mango and crème brûlée. That settlement set the terms for Joule’s marketing, which prohibited the company from targeting teenagers.
Juul has repeatedly denied targeting minors. According to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, the latest settlement does not end claims against Altria, which owns a 35 percent stake in Joule. The deal doesn’t provide immediate funding, but opens up the claims process.
“The scope of these cases is enormous.” Sarah R. London, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “These settlements will put meaningful reparations in the hands of victims and their families, provide real funding to schools for reduction programs, and help state and tribal agencies prevent youth use of e-cigarettes across America.”
The company is still awaiting a decision from the Food and Drug Administration regarding permanent authorization to sell its vaping devices and pods. In June, the company rejected the company’s application to allow its e-cigarettes to remain on the market. Juul received a temporary court stay, and the FDA later put its decision on hold pending further review, which is ongoing.
Juul said Tuesday’s settlement involved about 10,000 plaintiffs, many of whom had no idea the product was more addictive than cigarettes. Plaintiffs, including school districts, argued that e-cigarettes are unreasonably dangerous because they appeal to young people. They made claims ranging from fraud and unjust enrichment.
Meredith Bergman, co-founder of Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes, said she believes the settlement will be enough to “compensate the millions of American families affected by the youth vaping epidemic created by Juul.” The group is not a plaintiff in this multidistrict litigation.
He said he was initially concerned by the lack of details Juul released, and that the judge overseeing the case hoped Juul would have to submit documents showing the company intentionally targeted teenagers.
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