A planned settlement for a multidistrict litigation (MDL) against Juul Labs and Altria has received preliminary approval. According to a Jan. 20 Civil Minutes document obtained by Law360, the court has found the preliminary settlement to be “fair, reasonable, and adequate.”
The Juul MDL centers on claims that Juul marketed its e-cigarette products to children. According to plaintiffs, the use of young models in its advertising and the fun and trendy flavors used in its products resulted in many minors experimenting with the e-cigarette manufacturer’s products. Furthermore, because Juul Labs’ e-cigarette products were allegedly designed to give user’s more nicotine, these minors were more easily addicted to them.
The plaintiffs allege that this caused economic damages to school districts, municipalities, and indigenous tribes as they dealt with the consequences of youth nicotine addiction. Juul settled another similar series of lawsuits in September 2022 with 33 states that claimed the company had marketed its products to teens.
U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick preliminarily authorized the $255 million settlement when it was demonstrated that the settlement’s Notice Plan and selection of the Claims Administrator met the standard for preliminary approval. Additionally, the minutes also revealed that some cases were having stays removed after it was determined that they were outside the scope of the preliminary settlement. This would allow those plaintiffs to utilize the MDL’s discovery to bring their claims to trial.
While this settlement would award plaintiffs financial compensation for the economic losses suffered, this would not settle any other claims made against the company. This means that Juul Labs will need to negotiate separate settlements for the public nuisance and personal injury claims made by municipalities and individuals, respectively.
Juul Labs has also been embroiled in regulatory confrontations with the FDA, which removed its products from sale in June 2022. That move led Juul to file for an emergency injunction to keep its products in stores.