E-cigarette lawsuits claim vaping led to seizures, serious lung disease and strokes. Many claim that high nicotine levels in vaping fluids or pods led to e-cig addiction, possibly worsening the health dangers for people who used JUUL and other electronic cigarettes.
The number of e-cigarette lawsuits has been growing alongside rapidly increased e-cigarette use among teens and young people.
The U.S. Surgeon General has said there is an “e-cigarette epidemic among youth.” Most e-cig lawsuits have been filed by young adults or parents of teens who were unaware of the side effects of vaping.
In April 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began investigating reports of seizures related to vaping. Most of the reports involved teens and young adults.
Some people who suffered these seizures began filing lawsuits while the FDA investigation was still under way. Other e-cig users have filed lawsuits that claim chemicals in the e-cig fluids caused bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia, which is abbreviated as BOOP. Still other lawsuits claim vaping caused hemorrhagic strokes, which occur when bleeding suddenly interferes with the brain.
Many people who filed lawsuits say they became addicted to using e-cigarettes which led to or worsened their conditions. They claim they were unaware that vape fluids contained high levels of nicotine, a highly addictive substance.
Big Tobacco Companies Named in E-Cigarette Lawsuits
Many e-cig lawsuits target JUUL Labs Inc., which accounts for about 75 percent of the e-cigarettes sold in the United States. Those lawsuits also name Altria-Philips Morris, the Big Tobacco company that makes Marlboro and other tobacco cigarettes. Altria purchased 35 percent of JUUL in December 2018.
Lawsuits may also name other e-cigarette makers and tobacco companies such as Imperial Brands, which markets Blu e-cigs, and British American Tobacco, which markets four e-cigarettes including Vuse and Vype.
E-cigarette lawsuits are still in the early stages. Lawyers are taking and building cases. There have been no major e-cig verdicts or settlements so far.
Lawsuit Claims Nicotine Caused Seizures
Parents of a 15-year-old Florida girl filed a lawsuit against JUUL Labs, Altria Group Inc. and Philip Morris USA Inc. in 2019 after the teen suffered seizures they blamed on nicotine ingestion from vaping. Erin and Jared NesSmith claim their daughter became addicted to JUUL e-cigarettes. JUUL vape pods each contain as much nicotine as a pack of tobacco cigarettes.
The lawsuit claims she unintentionally swallowed e-cig fluids while using JUUL.
As of August 2019, the FDA had identified 127 reports of vaping-related seizures or neurological symptoms that occurred between 2010 and 2019. Many of these cases could be a potential e-cig lawsuit.
Seizures are a known side effect of nicotine toxicity. But many teens don’t realize nicotine is an e-cigarette danger. A 2019 study in the journal Pediatrics found that 40 percent of teens did not even realize the vape fluids they used contained nicotine.
The FDA found many of the seizure reports it examined involved teens and young adults. Luka Kinard of North Carolina suffered seizures after vaping the equivalent of 80 tobacco cigarettes per day. He was 14 years old at the time and had to check into rehab to break his nicotine habit, according to a report in the Greensboro News & Record.
Vaping Blamed for Breathing Problems
A pair of college students from Alabama filed a lawsuit in 2019 claiming they developed serious lung disorders from vaping JUUL e-cigarettes.
Elizabeth Swearingen was a 19-year-old student at the University of Alabama. She had been a cross country athlete in high school. But the lawsuit claims she “now has trouble breathing during the simplest of tasks.”
John Thomas Via Peavy was a 19-year-old student at Auburn University who had been using JUUL e-cigarettes since he was 17. The lawsuit claims he suffered “severe breathing problems after using JUUL.” The complaint says Peavy continues to have chest-congestion and a loss of appetite.
The complaint claims that both Swearingen and Peavy unintentionally swallowed vape fluids while using JUUL.
A 2018 study in the journal Thorax found e-cig vapor disables immune cells in the lung and increases inflammation. Researchers said it could increase the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.
COPD symptoms are similar to another lung condition called bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia, or BOOP. The American Lung Association has warned that BOOP is a potential vaping side effect.
Lawsuit Claims Man’s JUUL Use Caused a Massive Stroke
Maxwell Berger sued JUUL Labs in 2019 claiming his two-JUUL-pods-a-day habit led to his massive stroke before he turned 20. Vaping two of the pods would mean he was ingesting as much nicotine as someone who smoked 40 tobacco cigarettes a day.
Berger said in his complaint that he started using a JUUL e-cigarette while still a senior in high school in 2015. He claimed that two years later he was so addicted to nicotine that he was using the device every 10 minutes.
He suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke in July 2017. Hemorrhagic strokes can occur when a blood vessel bursts near the brain. Blood builds up in the skull, putting pressure on the brain and damaging it.
Berger’s lawsuit claimed he needed three brain surgeries and spent 100 days in the hospital as a result. The complaint said he suffers paralysis on his left side, speech impairment and loss of half his vision in each eye.
A 2019 study presented at the International Stroke Conference found e-cigarette users had higher risks of stroke and heart problems than non-users. The researchers found e-cig users had a 71 percent higher stroke risk, 59 percent higher heart attack risk and a 40 percent higher heart disease risk.
How to File an E-Cigarette or JUUL Lawsuit
People who file e-cigarette lawsuits usually have experienced a serious health condition connected to vaping. They may have also accidentally swallowed liquid in an e-cig’s pod while vaping.
People who have been diagnosed with seizures, severe lung conditions or strokes after vaping may be able to file a product liability lawsuit against the company that made the e-cigarette they used.
If you are considering a lawsuit, you should preserve the e-cigarette you used and any vaping fluids. And you should document how long you’ve been vaping, how often you used your e-cigarette and how many vape pods you used on a typical day.
Because the medical injuries involved can be complex, people should seek out an attorney with experience in filing medical-related lawsuits.
Product liability lawyers usually offer free consultations to determine if you have a case. They also generally do not charge a fee unless they win your case. Be sure to ask any lawyer you consult about charges up front to make sure.
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.