Westmoreland woman’s suit links Juul use to seizures
A Westmoreland County woman is suing the makers of Juul electronic cigarettes, claiming she suffered two seizures and impairment after using the device earlier this year.
The complaint, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, states that Kimberly Mays, a mother of two, suffered “catastrophic personal injuries” and is “now in a state of dependency — relying on others to care for her.”
The suit charges that JUUL Labs, based in San Francisco, and Altria Group of Richmond, Va., that has an ownership interest in JUUL, failed to warn Mays of the dangers associated with the vaping product, were negligent and made misrepresentations about the product.
Mays suffered an initial seizure in June and a second in July, in each case less than a half-hour after using a Juul vaping device, the complaint states. In each case, she required hospitalization.
After the second episode, Mays stopped using the device but suffered multiple seizures, short-term memory loss, mood shifts and “permanent altering of her brain,” the suit claims.
The suit also accuses the defendants of violating the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.
Filed by the Pittsburgh firm of Shenderovich, Shenderovich and Fishman, the suit seeks punitive damages as well as tripling any statutory damages.
Messages seeking comment left at JUUL’s San Francisco headquarters Thursday and Friday weren’t immediately returned.
Mays’ attorney, Craig Fishman, said the case appears to be the first federal suit filed against JUUL in the Western District of Pennsylvania.
He said it likely will join similar complaints against the company that are being transferred to the federal district court that has jurisdiction over San Francisco.
The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on Wednesday issued an order transferring 20 civil suits filed against JUUL in multiple states for adjudication in the Northern District of California. The order does not specifically refer to Mays’ case but notes there are more than 40 potentially-related suits that could be “tag-along actions.”
“We’re alleging manipulation of the nicotine concentration, making it more addictive, and misrepesentation of the addictive potential and the nicotine concentration in the cigarette, which was all part of the (transfer) that was recently approved,” Fishman said.
The Federal Trade Commission announced Thursday it has issued orders to six e-cigarette manufacturers, including JUUL Labs, seeking information for studying the companies’ sales, advertising, and promotional methods.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .