Juul Labs announced on Tuesday that it had agreed to settle approximately 5,000 lawsuits in a Northern California court case for an undisclosed sum, resolving another legal battle over its sale and marketing of e-cigarettes responsible for the e-cigarette crisis. teenage vaping.
The proposed multidistrict litigation agreement would conclude the personal injury, consumer class action, government and Native American tribes cases in a settlement that the company said it secured an investment to fund.
“These settlements represent a major step toward strengthening Juul Labs’ operations and securing the company’s path forward in fulfilling its mission of transitioning adult smokers away from combustible cigarettes while combating underage use. “, a company spokesperson said in a statement.
In September, the company settled an investigation by three dozen states for $438.5 million. This investigation focused on the company’s early marketing of its products, including the use of young models and the sale of flavors like mango and creme brulee that many believe were deliberately aimed at young minors. This settlement set out Juul’s marketing terms that prohibited the company from targeting young people.
Juul has repeatedly denied targeting minors, and in other rounds of settlements the company has not admitted to wrongdoing in reaching settlements with plaintiffs. The latest settlement does not end claims against Altria, which held a 35% stake in Juul, according to plaintiffs’ attorneys. The agreement does not offer funds immediately but will open a claims process.
“The scope of these lawsuits is enormous,” Sarah R. London, co-lead plaintiffs’ attorney, said in a statement. “These agreements will put meaningful compensation in the hands of victims and their families, secure real funding for schools for abatement programs, and help government and tribal entities stop young people from using e-cigarettes across the United States”
The company is still awaiting a decision from the Food and Drug Administration regarding permanent authorization for sale of its vaping devices and pods. In June, the agency denied the company’s request to allow its e-cigarettes to remain on the market. Juul received a temporary judicial stay, then the FDA suspended its decision for further review, which is ongoing.
Juul said Tuesday’s settlement involved around 10,000 plaintiffs, many of whom said they were unaware the product could be more addictive than cigarettes. The plaintiffs, which included school districts, also argued that e-cigarettes were unreasonably dangerous because of their appeal to young people. They made a wide range of claims, ranging from racketeering to fraud and unjust enrichment.
Meredith Berkman, co-founder of Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes, said she hopes the settlement will be significant enough “to compensate millions of American families whose lives have been turned upside down by the youth vaping epidemic created by Juul. “. The group is not a civil party in this multidistrict dispute.
She said she was troubled by the lack of details originally released by Juul and hoped the trial judge would require Juul to produce documents showing whether the company deliberately targeted teenagers.
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