Thousands of lawsuits have been filed nationwide over JUUL® and other e-cigarette/vaping products. Many of these cases allege that lung disease and other serious illness can be linked to use of JUUL®, while other claims focus on potentially unlawful marketing practices used by Juul Labs, Inc. (manufacturer of JUUL® products), especially advertising campaigns and products that seem to target teen consumers.
With so many plaintiffs filing so many lawsuits over JUUL®, you might assume that joining a class action against Juul Labs Inc. is your best course of action if you have your own valid claim. In this article, we'll explain why illness-related lawsuits over JUUL® are more suited to multi-district litigation (MDL).
When many claimants sue one defendant like Juul Labs, Inc., there are two main procedural options beyond the individual personal injury lawsuit: class actions and multi-district litigation.
A class action is one large lawsuit in which one or a few designated class representatives bring suit on behalf of many other similarly-harmed individuals (the "class"). This representative (usually through a team of lawyers) handles the litigation on behalf of the class, and what happens in the case is legally binding on all class members who did not "opt out" beforehand. Learn more about how class actions work.
But class actions aren't usually an effective or fair way to handle cases in which a large number of people have been harmed in significant (and potentially different) ways, even if that harm was caused by use of the same defective or unreasonably dangerous product. So most of the thousands of cases alleging health problems caused by JUUL® are currently making their way through state courts, or in federal multi-district litigation (MDL).
MDL consolidates multiple cases into a single federal district, before a single judge, who will shepherd the MDL through the pre-trial process, including rulings about evidence and discovery that will apply to every individual case. The judge will choose a few representative cases for "bellwether trials," which will give all parties an idea of what to expect if their own cases go to trial, and are typically meant to spur settlement talks. But if no settlement occurs, each case goes back to its respective home court, and the litigation proceeds on an individual basis. Learn more about how multi-district litigation works.
The JUUL® MDL (In re: Juul Labs, Inc. Marketing, Sales Practices & Products Liability Litigation MDL No. 2913) is before Judge William H. Orrick, III in U.S. District Court (Northern District of California).
Several hundred lawsuits in the MDL focus on recovering damages for health problems related to use of JUUL®, including:
There are a number of class actions in the MDL, but these focus on consumer fraud and misrepresentation claims (not allegations of JUUL®-related illness or injury), including:
Some proposed class actions in the MDL include a combination of both personal injury and consumer fraud claims. However, it’s unlikely that the MDL judge will approve a class action lawsuit that consists mostly of vaping illness claims. That's because (as discussed above) there will be significant differences among the claimants when it comes to health problems linked to JUUL®, as well as the facts underlying those health problems. For example, one plaintiff might assert that they suffered from EVALI after months of using JUUL®, while a second might allege that JUUL® contributed to a series of strokes.
If you're thinking about filing a lawsuit over health problems that could be related to your use of a vaping product like JUUL®, a lawyer can help you determine the best course of action for your individual case. Get tips on finding the right lawyer for you and your case and how a personal injury lawyer is typically paid.