CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — A series of lawsuits have been filed in New Jersey, alleging addiction and hospitalizations surrounding vaping. The lawsuits come after Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order to create a task force on vaping.
Court documents representing three separate lawsuits reveal that three teenagers living in New Jersey are suing some of the makers of e-cigarettes in federal court.
The companies named in the lawsuits are Juul Lab Inc., PAX Labs Inc. and Altria Group Inc. The lawsuit alleged that the companies’ sales, marketing and distribution have caused these teens to become addicted.
According to the filing, 18-year-old Matthew Divello, of Medford, started using Juul devices in early 2017, while he was a junior in high school.
In the last 18 months, he allegedly suffered behavioral and cognitive problems, declining academic status and, according to documents, was hospitalized for three days in August.
“Juul e-cigarette products were improperly labeled when this young man started vaping and started smoking,” attorney Michael Galpern said.
Galpern is an attorney out of Voorhees, who is representing a father and son from New Jersey.
He says the son starting vaping as a freshman in high school at age 14. The teen allegedly started purchasing Juul vaping products from stores and friends.
“Well I would direct them to the huge volumes of social media targeted advertisements that were directed at the 14- to 16-year-old age groups. This was geared towards children in the young adolescent age,” Galpern said.
Juul released a statement Friday that read, in part, “Our product has always only been marketed to be a viable alternative for the one billion current adult smokers in the world. We have never marketed to youth and do not want any non-nicotine users to try our products.”
The company also claims that a father purchased products for his underage son “even though he was below the legal age and despite Juul’s warnings that it was for adults only.”
Altria called the claims meritless.
“We believe the claims against Altria are meritless and will move to dismiss the case at the appropriate time. Virtually all of the conduct alleged in the complaint occurred before we had any economic interest in Juul. Our minority stake in Juul provides no basis for liability against Altria,” the company said.
Galpern says, since the lawsuit, he has received dozens of phone calls from parents and teenagers inquiring about filing their own lawsuits.