Louisville Metro Government joins area school districts in federal lawsuit against JUUL

Updated: Jan. 15, 2020 at 7:15 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – Louisville Metro Government filed a federal lawsuit against the largest manufacturer of e-cigarettes and vaping products.

The city joined a growing list of government entities -- including school districts in Jefferson, Bullitt and Fayette counties -- going to court because of vaping.

According to a complaint filed by Louisville Metro Government against JUUL Labs, Inc., on Wednesday, Kentucky has the second-highest rate of e-cigarette use in the country. The lawsuit was filed against JUUL for “its role in fueling the community health crisis of nicotine addiction, especially among young people,” according to Mayor Greg Fischer’s office.

A list published in 2019 by US News and World Report ranked Kentucky second among states with high rates of vaping. Indiana ranked third.

Fischer and others accuse Juul of deliberately targeting teens and getting them hooked with high doses of nicotine.

“I believe the goal is to turn our kids into nicotine addicts,” Fischer said. “Or, as the makers of these devices clearly think of them, paying customers. That is totally unacceptable.”

Added Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell: “It’s no wonder teens and other users are getting hooked from these more potent doses.”

The complaint alleges in part, “The JUUL Youth Marketing Enterprise misrepresented or failed to adequately disclose that its products contained nicotine or how much nicotine JUUL products deliver to a user’s bloodstream, including as compared to a combustible cigarette, as well as the benzoic acid levels JUULpods contain. JUUL further omitted the increased risk of addiction, physiological effects, and other severe health risks the higher-than-disclosed levels of nicotine delivery pose to a JUUL user. Instead, JUUL intentionally created a misleading impression that JUUL’s products were intended for youth, were totally safe or at least safer than combustible cigarettes, and were not a nicotine delivery device but, rather, a trendy tech product that should be associated with products like the wildly popular iPhone.”

The complaint alleges the following causes of action against JUUL:

1) Violation of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) Act

2) Public Nuisance

3) Negligence

4) Gross Negligence

5) Punitive Damages

6) Strict Product Liability – Failure to Warn

7) Strict Product Liability – Design Defect

8) Unjust Enrichment

The lawsuit was filed in California. Louisville Metro Government hired the law firms of Hendy Johnson Vaughn Emery, of Louisville, and Wagstaff & Cartmell LLP, of Kansas City, Mo., as outside counsel.

To read the full complaint, click here.

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