Juul Labs Faces First Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over 18-year-old’s Vaping Death
The mother of a Florida teenager has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Juul Labs after she says her 18-year-old son became addicted to the vaping device, a habit that killed him last year. According to US News, Lisa Marie Vail filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Daniel David Wakefield was “a healthy teenager whose life tragically and prematurely ended” because of injuries that were directly caused by his addiction to Juul, the lawsuit, the first one of its kind. The teen died in his sleep.
Heightened Concern About Health Effects
This wrongful death lawsuit comes in the midst of heightened concern about youth vaping in general. Officials say the country is experiencing an epidemic of e-cigarette use and Juul is considered a primary culprit for targeting young people with its sleep and discreet nicotine vaping devices. Vaping has also been linked to more than two dozen deaths and scores of lung illnesses in recent months.
Vail says in the lawsuit that her son’s vaping began when he was exposed to Juul advertising at age 15. The lawsuit states that after he began to use Juul products, Wakefield’s interest and performance in school significantly worsened and that “his emotional well being was substantially altered.” His mother stated that his addiction worsened over time.
The lawsuit also says that less than a year after he began to use Juul, Wakefield was hospitalized for three days for breathing and lung complications. He was so addicted that hospital staff had to affix nicotine patches to Wakefield’s skin throughout his hospitalization. The teen eventually died of breathing complications in August 2018. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and is reportedly the first of its kind against a major e-cigarette company.
E-Cig Marketing and Liability Issues
Even though Juul says it doesn’t market its vaping products to adolescents, it is clear from its extensive marketing campaign on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram that the company has systematically and purposefully targeted teens and young adults to sell its products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had to crack down on Juul and ordered it’s marketing campaigns to be suspended. Until that happened, the company showed no signs of slowing down.
The allegations in this wrongful death lawsuit raise more concerns about the health effects of e-cigarettes. The fact that a young person who uses this product can suffer serious health effects and die within a few years is frightening and should be food for thought. As product defect attorneys who represent the rights of injured consumers, we hope these reports of deaths and deadly lung illnesses linked to e-cigarettes will motivate more cities and jurisdictions to crack down on these dangerous and defective products.