Juul, one of the world’s largest vaping companies, has come under fire repeatedly in 2019 for allegedly marketing their products to underage consumers – and now, a lawsuit filed on the 29th of October alleges that Juul shipped out over a million nicotine cartridges, or ‘pods’, contaminated with an unknown substance.
The plaintiff, former Juul Senior Vice President of Global Finance Siddharth Breja, filed his lawsuit with the US District Court in Northern California after the San Francisco-based company announced that they would be laying off five-hundred employees. He notes various problems with Juul’s operations in the United States, incriminating former CEO Ken Burns in several of his claims.
The lawsuit alleges that, in early March of 2019, the company informed its executives that 250,000 packages of Mint-flavored Juul pods – one million pods in total – had been filled with an e-liquid known to be contaminated with an unknown outside agent. The lawsuit further alleges that, despite an unwillingness from higher-ups at Juul to report the contamination to consumers, the company sought reparations from their supplier totaling $7 million.
Breja specifically names Tim Danaher, Chief Finance Officer at Juul when the contamination took place, as a key figure in withholding this information from consumers. Danaher, Breja asserts, focused his concerns on the possible drop in stocks from a public scandal and discounted concerns of customer health.
A separate incident named in the same lawsuit involves resale of pods which were over a year old, and in Breja’s opinion, could have been expired – he asked then-CEO Ken Burns if they should be including “best-by” dates on their packaging and received a response expressing the thought that “half our customers are drunk and vaping like mo-fos, who the f*ck is going to notice the quality of our pods.”
The second half of 2019 has been an alarming time for vaping companies and their customers – a vaping illness claimed lives around the United States and more information is coming out daily about the possible causes of the disease officials are calling EVALI. Only time will tell if Juul can weather the storm of these lawsuits without the financial losses they’ve feared.