Will Vaping Injuries Bring a Storm of Litigation?January 10, 2020
E-cigarettes and vaping were considered to be significantly safer than smoking “traditional” cigarettes when they first arrived on the scene. Fairly recently, however, an outbreak of serious illnesses that are allegedly tied to vaping will almost certainly result in a virtual storm of litigation against the manufacturers of e-cigarettes and vaping supplies. In turn, many vaping and e-cigarette manufacturers are attempting to place the blame on products that contain THC, which means the cannabis industry may also be forced to weather its share of litigation.
More than One Thousand Cases of Unidentified Lung Illnesses and Eighteen Fatalities Tied to Vaping
As detailed in an article by Insurance Journal, the CDC says that as of October 1, 2019, more than 1,080 cases of unidentified lung illnesses, as well as 18 fatalities, have been definitively linked to the vaping industry. Just last month, the FDA issued a consumer Safety Alert which warned against the use of vaping products that contain THC. Many of the samples tested by states and the FDA contained Vitamin E acetate, as well as THC.
Since Vitamin E acetate is more traditionally used in topical products, there is a lack of information regarding how it reacts when used as an inhalant. The FDA’s alert cautioned consumers against the use of THC oil in vaping pens, also cautioning them to avoid purchasing the products on the street, and to avoid any type of modification associated with vaping products.
The FDA did admit, however, that there is not a single substance identified in all of the samples which underwent tests. Perhaps the biggest issue associated with the vaping illnesses and deaths is related to the fact that the vast majority of these have occurred in teenagers. This September, President Trump unveiled a plan which would ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes—the only “flavor” allowed would be tobacco.
Teens are the Primary Consumers of Flavored Vaping Products
Since teens are the primary consumers of flavored vaping, the plan would supposedly decrease the number of teens who begin—or continue—vaping. E-cigarettes are a relatively new product that is not fully understood. When combined with THC—a substance that has proven to be both socially and politically divisive—the results may end up being explosive.
Many of the manufacturers implicated in the flavored vape pens and e-cigarettes are located in foreign countries, with China being the most notable. Since the science involved is not yet sufficient to either prove or disprove the allegations, the litigation arising will likely include credible claims as well as claims which are completely without merit.
It Could Take Years to Obtain Data Which Determines Safety of Vaping and THC
In fact, it could take years to amass sufficient data which determines whether the THC, the vaping, both, or something else entirely, is responsible for the illnesses and deaths. When you consider just how many decades it actually took for medicine to really understand just how dangerous smoking was, you can see that it could also take a considerable amount of time to understand the latest vaping injuries. In the meantime, it remains likely that consumers will allege manufacturers failed to warn consumers about the risks associated with e-cigarettes and vaping liquids. All parties in the supply chain will be attempting to shift their risk exposure. There is also considerable uncertainty regarding which direction and how far the government investigations will go.
Juul Remains Primary Target of Vaping-Related Lawsuits
Juul has been one of the primary targets of the vaping-related lawsuits which have already been filed; Juul currently controls about 75 percent of the e-cigarette market and the maker of Marlboro, Altria Group (which has a minority stake in Juul), has also been named as a potential defendant. Some of the claims focus on product liability, claiming the products manufactured by Juul are defectively designed and inherently dangerous—and that Juul neglected to warn the public about either of those issues. Lawsuits filed against Juul in federal court will probably be consolidated in an MDL, and class action lawsuits are likely as well.
Getting the Help Necessary for Vaping-Related Injuries and Deaths
As more and more people—particularly teens—are using vaping products and e-cigarettes, it is likely we will continue to see an upswing in lawsuits related to such injuries and deaths. While the data is not solid on whether it is the vaping or the THC—or something else entirely—causing the injuries and deaths, it is a sure bet the lawsuits will continue to increase. When an individual suffers a serious injury—or a family endures the wrongful death of a loved one—the individual or the family members may be unable to pay medical expenses, or even normal monthly expenses.
Help can come from USClaims. At USClaims, pre-settlement funding can help your clients pay those unexpected expenses in anticipation of a vaping court judgment or settlement. Call 1-877-USCLAIMS today for the information you and your clients need and deserve.