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Weitz & Luxenberg is among four firms representing plaintiffs in class action and personal injury cases against the e-cigarette manufacturer.
Weitz & Luxenberg and three other plaintiff firms, who are the court appointed co-lead counsel for the multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving JUUL electronic cigarettes recently filed consolidated complaints alleging that e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL Labs and cigarette giant Altria Group hid the risks of addiction associated with using their devices and aggressively marketed their nicotine delivery products to minors.
While the complaints were filed in March, only recently after a process involving the unsealing of purported confidential documents, were the complaints able to be refiled with important additional facts disclosed that had previously been redacted or sealed.
The complaints allege that JUUL and Altria falsely marketed the devices as safe alternatives to cigarettes, concealed studies that found e-cigarettes are more addictive than traditional cigarettes, and hid information showing that e-cigarette users are more susceptible to cardiovascular and pulmonary problems. Additionally, the complaints allege that aspects of the JUUL marketing campaign specifically targeted young people through advertising on children’s programming and the use of social media influencers aimed at teenagers.
“It is clear that JUUL and Altria followed the standard cigarette industry playbook of downplaying and deceiving about the potential dangers of their products,” said Ellen Relkin chair of Weitz & Luxenberg’s Defective Drugs and Devices practice group and one of the lead attorneys representing plaintiffs. “Not only did the manufacturers conceal how dangerous and addictive their e-cigarettes are, but they used aggressive, predatory tactics that specifically targeted children with their vape products.” Relkin stated that she is pleased that key facts learned from documentary discovery are now available to the public.
The complaints contain claims for individual injuries including addiction, lung injuries, and seizures, as well as claims on behalf of school districts and counties, and additionally consumer claims in nationwide classes and state classes. The claims seek damages and disgorgement of profits from the sale of JUUL’s e-cigarette vape products. All consolidated cases in the multidistrict litigation have been assigned to U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick of the Northern District of California.
Ms. Relkin has extensive experience working on medical device and pharmaceutical product liability cases, including as co-lead counsel for the $2.5 billion settlement for patients with failed DePuy ASR hip implants and a more than billion dollar settlement involving Stryker’s Rejuvenate and ABGII modular hip implants.
Ms. Relkin is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a civil trial attorney, and has been named as a Super Lawyer in New York and New Jersey for the past decade. She has been recognized as one of the Best Lawyers in America in 2018, 2019, and 2020, and as one of the Top 100 New York Lawyers and Top 50 New York Women Lawyers by Metro Super Lawyers. She is also the 2019 recipient of the American Association for Justice’s Women Trial Lawyers Caucus prestigious Marie Lambert Award given in recognition of exemplary leadership to the profession and the community.