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

‘Something needs to be done’, collision kills cyclist in Pitt Meadows Tuesday night

39-year-old man from Maple Ridge was pronounced dead at the scene

Maple Ridge council looking at 4.25 per cent tax increase

‘Pick list’ could increase or reduce spending during November’s budgeting

Maple Ridge firefighting camp empowers young women

Camp Ignite to take place at Justice Institute on Sunday, Aug. 9

Dirty toilets greet visitors to Whonnock Lake during BC Day long weekend

Three out of four portable toilets ‘unusable’

BREAKING: Reported stabbing in Harrison Hot Springs

Police chase ran through Agassiz, witnesses say

Fraser Valley Bandits clinch first round bye with win

Bandits defeat Guelph 84-70, advance to the CEBL semifinals on Saturday

B.C. doctors, dentists call on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

Abbotsford mom worried about her two kids in Beirut following explosion

Shelley Beyak’s children were abducted by their dad in 2018

Most Read