Hoosiers file lawsuit against e-cigarette makers Juul, claiming deceptive marketing and health issue

Posted at 3:47 PM, Oct 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-18 15:47:10-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Four Indiana residents have sued e-cigarette giant Juul, claiming the company knowingly marketed it to youths as a safe product, when it is “highly addictive” and “no safer than cigarettes.”

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Southern District of Indiana, Indiana residents Mia Malasto, Tyler Purvis and two juveniles claim Juul failed to warn its users of the risks of the e-cigarettes. They also say Juul violated the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act and intentionally misrepresented its products.

The lawsuit says Malasto, an Indianapolis resident, was 15 when she began using Juul products in 2016. It says she started when she saw the advertisements on Instagram, and when her high school friends used the products.

It states she developed a nicotine addiction and has been unable to quit using the products.

“JUUL’s e-cigarettes caused Plaintiff Malasto damage both financially and to her health, including lung problems and anxiety, caused by her use of JUUL’s e-cigarettes,” the lawsuit states. “The advertising Plaintiff Malasto saw did nothing to warn her of the serious health consequences and addiction she could suffer as a result of using JUUL Vaping Products. Had Plaintiff Malasto known the truth about the addictiveness and health risks to teenagers of JUUL Vaping Products, she would not have purchased or used the product.”

The plaintiffs are seeking actual, compensatory, and consequential damages, statutory damages and penalties, punitive damages and restitution.

A Juul Labs spokesperson released the following comment on the lawsuit:

"We never designed our marketing to appeal to youth and do not want any non-nicotine users to try our products as they exist to help adult smokers find an alternative to combustible cigarettes," the statement reads. "We need to urgently address underage use of vapor products and earn the trust of regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders. That is why we are focusing on taking aggressive actions to reduce youth usage of our products, working through the FDA's PMTA process and supporting and complying with FDA’s final guidance on flavored products once effective.”