Thursday, May 30, 2024

Federal Judge Approves Final Settlement in Juul and Altria Class Action Lawsuit


A federal judge has granted final approval to a settlement in a class action lawsuit involving Juul Labs and its parent company, Altria. This decision concludes the legal battle with a settlement total amounting to just over $300 million, addressing claims that Juul Labs misled the public about the addictiveness of its products and targeted underage users.

Key Points of the Settlement

  • Total Settlement: The combined settlement reached over $300 million, with Altria contributing $45,531,250.
  • Plaintiffs’ Charges: Juul was accused of deceiving consumers about the addictiveness of its e-cigarettes and targeting teens with appealing flavors and marketing strategies.
  • Legal Milestones: The lawsuit overcame numerous challenges, including motions to dismiss and class certifications, enhancing the credibility of the plaintiffs’ claims.
  • Preliminary Approval: Earlier in January, the settlement received preliminary approval for $255 million directly from Juul Labs.

Background of the Case

The lawsuit, initiated in 2018, accused Juul Labs of marketing their vaping products to teenagers through engaging social media campaigns and offering enticing flavors like those of candies. This strategy allegedly played a significant role in fostering nicotine addiction among young users.

  • Judge’s Statement: U.S. District Judge William Orrick stated that the settlement amount was “fair, reasonable, and adequate” considering the potential risks and outcomes of a trial.
  • Class Certification: The court recognized four distinct plaintiff classes, broadening the scope of those affected and eligible for settlement claims.

Broader Impact and Previous Settlements

  • Historical Context: This settlement adds to Juul’s history of legal challenges over similar issues. Previously, Juul agreed to pay substantial amounts to several states, totaling over $900 million, to resolve accusations related to marketing towards teenagers.
  • Altria’s Divestment: In 2023, Altria ended its investment in Juul, obtaining a non-exclusive license to some of Juul’s heated tobacco intellectual property instead.

Future Implications

This settlement marks a significant development in tobacco control litigation, emphasizing the legal responsibilities of vaping companies regarding consumer safety and marketing practices. It also reflects a growing scrutiny of marketing strategies aimed at younger demographics in the vaping industry.

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