Juul is facing new accusations of misconduct, this time from a former employee who claims the company fired him after he pushed senior management to recall tainted nicotine vape pods. These new allegations raise questions about whether Juul’s products can cause lung damage. By the end of October 2019, nearly 1,900 Americans had been diagnosed with a condition now called E-Cigarette or Vaping Associated Lung Injury (EVALI), and 37 had died from the same. Though the FDA and CDC have not yet determined the cause of these injuries, THC pods have been implicated in 86% of EVALI cases. For the 11% of users who only used nicotine pods, doctors have not identified potential risk factors. A new lawsuit filed by Siddharth Breja, Juul’s former SVP of Global Finance, suggests Juul may have the answers.
Juul’s Problems, and Liability, Grow
In September, Juul was publicly reprimanded by the FDA for using unproven claims to market their products. To avoid penalty, Juul stopped representing their products as a safe alternative to cigarettes and apologized for potentially misleading consumers. However, Breja’s lawsuit raises new concerns about Juul’s views on safety. Breja alleges he was ousted after blowing the whistle on pods that could put consumers in danger.
“Who is going to notice the quality of our pods?”
Breja twice noticed worrying irregularities in Juul’s shipments. In February, he discovered Juul was going to sell a batch of expired nicotine pods and approached CEO Kevin Burns (who has since been ousted) with a warning. Burns brushed off his concerns. The CEO, according to the lawsuit, claimed that many “[Juul] customers are drunk and vaping like mo-fos” and therefore would not notice any quality issues. The pods were sold, without even a small concession such as the addition of a best by date. Breja later identified a manufacturing issue and went to Burns again, citing concerns of contamination, only to have his concerns once again ignored.
Several weeks later, Breja learned that despite his warnings, several contaminated batches of mint-flavored pods had been shipped. Breja entreated upper management to recall the pods due to public health concerns. Once again, management ignored his pleas and advised him to “remember his loyalty to Juul.” Breja was fired the following week. Though Juul confirms that Breja noticed a real manufacturing issue, they say no contamination took place. However, their decision to charge their e-liquid supplier $7 million for contaminated product seems to suggest otherwise.
Juul Lawsuits Stack Up
Breja’s lawsuit is more bad news for Juul: The company is already facing lawsuits for:
- Marketing e-cigarettes to teenagers
- Concealing the high amounts of nicotine included in a vape pod
- Claiming their products were less addictive than cigarettes
Juul is also being investigated by the FDA, the Federal Trade Commission and several state attorneys general. In response to these claims and the spate of EVALI diagnoses, Juul agreed to stop selling its fruit-flavored pods in October of 2019. Many states have moved to temporarily ban flavored vape pods, and the federal government has discussed disallowing them nationwide. As the suits progress, will the plaintiffs uncover evidence to support these bans?
Were You Mislead by Juul’s Promises?
Attorney Brett Oppenheimer is concerned that Juul is following in the footsteps of the tobacco industry by actively marketing an unsafe product– especially to young consumers. He believes Juul must be held accountable for using unsubstantiated claims to advertise its products. If the claims regarding contaminated vape pods are proven, Juul must also help anyone whose health deteriorated due to their negligence. Have you or a family member experienced health problems connected to Juul or other e-cigarettes? Reach out to Brett now for the help you deserve.
Get your free consultation with Attorney Brett Oppenheimer by contacting him online or calling (502) 242-8877.