U.S. teenager files lawsuit against Juul e-cigarette maker

Illinois teenager fell ill with a lung disease after vaping for over a year

Polly Hergenreder, right, and her son Adam, centre, attend a news conference where their attorney Antonio Romanucci, announced the filing of a civil lawsuit against e-cigarette maker Juul on Hergenreder’s behalf Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

An Illinois teenager who fell ill with a lung disease after vaping for over a year sued a leading e-cigarette maker on Friday, accusing it of deliberately marketing to young people and sending the message that vaping is cool.

Attorneys filed a lawsuit in Lake County Circuit Court on behalf of 18-year-old Adam Hergenreder, who was hospitalized at the end of August for about a week after complaining of nausea and laboured breathing.

The 85-page suit argued Juul Labs conveyed in advertisements and through social media campaigns that kids could boost their social status by vaping. It also said Juul never fully disclose their products contain dangerous chemicals.

“To put it mildly, Adam didn’t stand a chance to avoid getting hooked on these toxic timebombs,” said Hergenreder’s lawyer, Antonio Romanucci.

The filing comes as health officials investigate hundreds of breathing illnesses nationwide reported in people who used vaping devices. An Illinois man died in August after contracting a lung disease linked to vaping.

READ MORE: U.S. government plans to ban flavours used in e-cigarettes

Hergenreder recently told the Chicago Tribune that last year he started buying homemade devices filled with THC, the high-inducing ingredient in marijuana, off the street. Vaping companies say blame should be put on those black-market devices, called dab sticks, for a spate of hospitalizations.

Friday’s lawsuit did not directly raise that issue, including whether it is possible that the makeshift devices containing THC could have caused or contributed to Hergenreder’s illness.

Hergenreder, from the Chicago suburb of Gurnee, was released from the hospital on Sept. 6 with “significant lung damage,” according to the lawsuit. He appeared with his mother and his attorney at a Friday news conference announcing the litigation.

San Francisco-based Juul said in a Friday statement that it’s “never marketed to youth” and has ongoing campaigns to combat underage use. It added that its products are meant to help adult smokers wean themselves off traditional paper-and-tobacco cigarettes, which Juul called “the deadliest legal consumer product known to man.”

Among the precautions Juul said it’s taken to ensure young people aren’t drawn to its e-cigarettes was to close Juul’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. The company said it has also deployed technology that restricts a sale until someone’s age is verified.

The new lawsuit accused Juul of sometimes relying on indirect advertising to children, including by employing social media users with huge followings to promote Juul products in tweets or Instagram posts.

The lawsuit also names a gas station in Waukegan as a defendant, accusing it of regularly selling Hergenreder nicotine-based Juul products when he was too young to legally buy them. Federal law prohibits e-cigarette and all other tobacco sales to those under 18.

Michael Tarm, The Associated Press

READ MORE: Juul opens first store in Canada amid outcry about rise of teen vaping

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New MP Taylor Bachrach makes his first trip to Bella Coola

Bachrach said he is keen to get to know his riding and the members of his constituency

Bachrach rejects calls for police action against demonstrators

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP says only way out of crisis is “true nation-to-nation” talks

Nuxalk Nation celebrates first carpentry graduates

11 students graduated from the community’s first carpentry program

Bella Coola leave their mark on All Native Basketball Tournament as they reach Intermediate final

Nuxalk Braves bring home a strong second place finish; three individual awards for Marlon Edgar-Apps

All Native Basketball: Finals matchups start to take shape as title games approach

Two Prince Rupert sides in contention, while two dynasties are on the brink

VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en supporters vow to keep protesting at B.C. legislature

Supporters say they will continue ongoing action to hold government accountable

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

B.C. city rebrands with new logo, cheeky slogan

‘Langford, where it all happens’ is the City’s new slogan

B.C. Liberals call for ban on foreign funds to pipeline protesters

Sierra Club, Wilderness Committee back Coastal GasLink blockades

Most Read