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Vape Popcorn Lung Lawsuit | Get the Right Lawyer

E-cigarettes, also knows as ‘vapes’ or ‘vaporizers’, have been heavily marketed to teens and young adults as a safe alternative to regular cigarettes. However, a new study has found that ‘vaping’ could cause an incurable respiratory disease called popcorn lung and other serious side effects. Vapes have also recently been linked to explosions and severe burn injuries.
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Electronic Cigarette

How Do Vapes Work?

Vaping is a trendy approach to traditional smoking in which flavored liquid is placed in a vaporizer tank to be heated and inhaled. Vapes or e-cigarettes are made of 3 main components: a battery, tank and atomizer. E-liquid comes in a wide variety of flavors from a traditional tobacco to sweet desserts to custom blended flavors.

Vaping, unlike smoking, involves the inhalation of vaporized e-cigarette liquids consisting of water, nicotine concentrations, propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin and flavoring. The lack of smoke inhalation is what leads many electronic cigarette users to believe vaping is a safer alternative to smoking.

Vape Side Effects

Vapes and e-cigarettes have been linked to the serious side effects:

  • Popcorn lung (bronchiolitis obliterans)
  • Seizures
  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Congestive heart failure (CHF)
  • Hypotension
  • Fixed airway obstruction
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Diseases of the small airways
  • Additional health problems

Study Links Youth Vaping Epidemic to Popcorn Lung Injuries

A Harvard University study (1) published on December 8, 2015, found that more than 75% of flavored e-cigarettes contain diacetyl, a chemical that has been linked to a severe respiratory disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, commonly known as popcorn lung. The condition first appeared a decade earlier when workers at a Missouri popcorn plant inhaled artificial microwave butter flavoring.

“Due to the associations between diacetyl, bronchiolitis obliterans and other severe respiratory diseases observed in workers, urgent action is recommended to further evaluate this potentially widespread exposure via flavored e-cigarettes,” the researchers concluded.

Popcorn lung is an irreversible condition that results in scarring on the air sacs in the lungs. Its symptoms are similar to those produced by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which may include:

  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Scarring / hardening of lung tissue
  • Respiratory failure
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Skin Peeling

E-Cigarettes Linked to Incurable ‘Popcorn Lung’ Injuries: Video

What is JUUL?

JUUL is a brand of e-cigarette that is shaped like a USB flash drive. Like other similar products, JUUL vaping devices are powered by lithium ion batteries that heat a nicotine-containing liquid to produce an aerosol that is inhaled.

All JUUL e-cigarettes have a high level of nicotine, with a single JUUL pod containing as much nicotine as a pack of 20 traditional cigarettes.

The JUUL e-cigarette is one of a few e-cigarettes that uses nicotine salts, which allows particularly high levels of nicotine to be inhaled more easily and with less irritation than the free-base nicotine used in tobacco and other brands of e-cigarettes.

News outlets and social media sites report widespread JUUL electronic cigarette use by students in schools, including classrooms and bathrooms.

More than 60% of JUUL e-cigarette users aged 15 – 24 do not know that JUUL e cigarette products always contain nicotine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2).

Although JUUL is currently the top-selling e-cigarette brand in the U.S., other e-cigarette companies sell e-cigarettes that look like USB flash drives. Examples include the MarkTen Elite and the PAX Era, a marijuana delivery device that looks like JUUL.

Additional information about USB-shaped e-cigarettes and actions that parents, educators, and health care providers can take to protect tobacco free kids is available at CDC’s Infographic (3).

JUUL Labs Inc. to Pay $40 Million in Lawsuit Settlement

E-cigarette company JUUL Labs Inc. will pay $40 million and make changes to its business practices to settle the first sate lawsuit that alleged it marketed to teens and young adults, according to CNN (4).

The settlement follows a 2019 class action JUUL lawsuit filed by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein which alleged that JUUL Labs marketed its e cigs to children and misled the public about health risks associated with those e cigarette products. The order will restrict the e-cigarette manufacturer’s sales and advertising in the state, and provide funds to help those addicted to e-cigarettes.

“Juul Labs Inc. must abandon all marketing and content that appeals to young adults," Stein said. "Juul Labs will be prohibited from influencer advertising, outdoor advertising near schools, sponsoring sporting events and concerts, and most importantly, most social media advertising. JUUL Labs cannot use anyone under the age of 35 years in their advertising. Juul Labs cannot make any claims that its e-cigarettes are safer or better for your health than combustible cigarettes.”

The consent order also requires that JUUL Labs institute a barcode age-verification system of IDs at places where its e cigs are sold, and that this system be tested through a retailer compliance program using mystery shoppers at 1,000 stores per year. For online sales, the company is ordered to restrict sales to individuals to no more than 2 e cigs per month, 10 per year and no more than 60 pods per month.

The settlement money will go toward the youth vaping epidemic, and will be paid over six years.

Status of JUUL Lawsuits

As of July 2020, at least 758 JUUL e cigarette use lawsuits had been consolidated in multidistrict litigation MDL-2913. Many e-cigarette lawsuits claim JUUL’s e cigarette market targets minors, and the company denies this.

“We have never marketed to youth and do not want any non-nicotine cigarette users to try our products,” Juul Labs spokesperson Ted Kwong told VICE. “These suits largely copy and paste unfounded allegations previously raised in other e-cigarette lawsuits, which we have been actively contesting for over a year. These cases are without merit, and we will defend our mission throughout this process.”

The cases represented both class action e cigarette use lawsuits and individual personal injury cases filed in 4 states. The litigation is expected to continue growing.

JUUL Class Action Lawsuit

Schools across the U.S. have joined a class action lawsuit against JUUL, alleging that the company targeted minors in its advertising campaigns and downplayed the health risks associated with e-cigarettes.

The class action, filed in a California federal court, alleges that JUUL targets high school students by enticing them with fun and fruity flavored e-cigarettes. Lexington One, which joined the lawsuit in October 2020, claims that vaping has affected everyday school operations, adding that suspensions over electronic cigarette use have sharply increased in recent years.

Richland Two, South Carolina’s fifth-largest school district, is also considering whether to join the class action. School district trustee Amelia McKie acknowledged a recent proposal to sue, which was prompted “because of the addictive nature of vaping” and the “potential for health problems and other consequences for our students…”

The lawsuit seeks to recoup expenses related to addressing in-school JUUL vaping, including hiring additional employees to monitor vape use in hallways and bathrooms. Some schools have been forced to buy expensive electronic cigarette detectors, while others have used resources on educational programs to inform students and parents about the effects of electronic cigarettes, according to the complaint.

Nationwide statistics show that parents and schools do have cause for concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 21% of South Carolina high school students currently use tobacco. The most used products are e-cigarettes, and students report using JUUL more than any other brand.

The lawsuit comes after years of scrutiny against JUUL, which has come under fire for allegedly targeting teens and young adults with their sleek designs and fruity flavors. The company also maintains its e-cigarette market as a “safer alternative to cigarettes,” even though they contain nicotine and expose the lungs to diacetyl, which can cause bronchitis obliterans (popcorn lung).

What are JUUL Lawsuits Alleging?

Allegations in JUUL lawsuits include:

  • Juul marketed its products in a manner to attract minors
  • The company promoted nicotine addiction
  • Its marketing failed to warn that its nicotine adversely affects the lungs, increasing the risk of respiratory failure
  • The company’s products are defective and unreasonably dangerous

To date, no trials in the MDL have been scheduled. Most of the initial e-cigarette lawsuits in the litigation were filed before incidents of vaping injuries and deaths began being reported in mid-2019. The New York Times reported in October 2019 that several people who were affected had used JUUL brand nicotine products before becoming sick.

JUUL Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The first wrongful death lawsuit against JUUL was filed in a California federal court in October 2019.

The mother of 18-year-old David Wakefield alleged that her son was first exposed to JUUL marketing when he was 15, started smoking e-cigarettes soon afterward and continued doing so for years.

The lawsuit further alleged that a year after he started vaping, Wakefield was hospitalized for 3 days due to breathing and lung injuries. His nicotine addiction was so severe that hospital staff had to use nicotine patches to ease his cravings, according to the suit.

Wakefield continued vaping after he was released from the hospital. His father found the teen had died in his sleep early on the morning of August 31, 2019, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit claimed JUUL marketed its products to minors and the company’s “conduct and the defects in Juul products were a substantial factor in causing Wakefield’s death.”

Lawsuit Alleges Juul Sold 1 Million Contaminated Vape Pods

A former senior vice president at JUUL Labs filed a lawsuit against the company in October 2019, alleging that he was fired after he raised concerns over 1 million contaminated mint-flavored JUUL pods that were distributed to retailers and consumers.

Plaintiff Siddharth Breja’s lawsuit claimed JUUL “refused to recall those contaminated pods or even issue a product health and safety warning,” and that the company sold expired products over his repeated protests.

The company’s former CEO, Kevin Burns, told CBS This Morning in September 2019 that JUUL’s products were legal and tested for toxicity, and that said JUUL would not sell a product with some dangerous health risks.

Suit Claims Nicotine in JUUL pods Caused Seizures

In April 2019, the Food and Drug Administration began investigating reports of seizures related to vapes and vaping, most of which involved teens and young adults. Some people who suffered these seizures began filing lawsuits while the FDA investigation was still under way.

Parents of a 15-year-old Florida girl filed a lawsuit against JUUL Labs, Altria Group Inc. and Philip Morris USA Inc. in 2019 after the teen experienced seizures they blamed on nicotine addiction from vaping. Plaintiffs Erin and Jared Smith claim their daughter became addicted to JUUL e-cigarettes.

The lawsuit claims she unintentionally swallowed e-cig fluids while using JUUL.

As of August 2019, the Food and Drug Administration had identified 127 reports of vaping-related seizures or neurological symptoms that occurred between 2010 and 2019. Many of these cases could be a potential e-cig lawsuit.

Seizures are a known side effect of nicotine toxicity. However, many teenagers and young adults don’t realize nicotine is a danger of vaping.

A 2019 study in the journal Pediatrics found that 40% of teens and young adults did not even realize the vape fluids they used contained nicotine.

The FDA found many of the seizure reports it examined involved teens and young adults.

Luka Kinard had a seizure after vaping the equivalent of 80 tobacco cigarettes per day. He was 14 years old at the time and had to check into rehab to break his nicotine habit, according to a report in the Greensboro News & Record.

Lawsuit Alleges JUUL Caused Man's Stroke

Maxwell Berger filed a lawsuit against JUUL Labs in 2019 claiming his 2-JUUL-pods-a-day habit led to a massive stroke at the age of 19. Vaping 2 pods per day is the equivalent of smoking 40 tobacco cigarettes a day.

Berger claims that he started using a JUUL e-cigarette while still a senior in high school in 2015. He claimed that 2 years later, he was so addicted to nicotine that he was using the device every 10 minutes.

He suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke in July 2017. Hemorrhagic strokes can occur when a blood vessel bursts near the brain. Blood builds up in the skull, putting pressure on the brain and damaging it.

Berger’s lawsuit claimed he needed 3 brain surgeries and spent 100 days in the hospital as a result. The complaint said he suffers paralysis on his left side, speech impairment and loss of half his vision in each eye.

A 2019 study presented at the International Stroke Conference found e-cigarette users had higher health risks of stroke and heart problems than non-users. The researchers found e-cigarette users had a 71% higher stroke risk, 59% higher heart attack risk and a 40% higher heart disease risk.

Texas Man Dies From Vape Explosion

February 14, 2019 - An exploding e-cigarette caused a man from Fort Worth, Texas, to suffer brain injuries so catastrophic they resulted in his death from a severed carotid artery.

The victim, 24-year-old William Brown, was at a vaporizer store in Keller, Texas, when the fatal accident occurred. His grandmother says he had just purchased the vape, and was using it for the first time in her car when it exploded in his mouth.

Vaping Linked to Lung Injuries, CDC Says

August 22, 2019 - The CDC said on Saturday that it had counted at least 94 probable cases of severe lung damage or "pulmonary disease" associated with vapes or e-cigarettes in 14 states from June 28 to August 15. Patients suspected of having the illness were hospitalized for “multiple weeks,” in some cases ending up in the intensive care unit, according to health officials. Symptoms included shortness of breath, fever, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness and chest pain.

1 in 4 Children Exposed to Secondhand Smoke from E-Cigs, CDC Study Finds

April 3, 2017 - A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that nearly one-quarter of teens in the U.S. have been exposed to potentially dangerous secondhand vapors from electronic cigarettes over the past 30 days. Children who were exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke were also more likely to be exposed to secondhand vapor from e-cigarettes, CDC found.

Lawsuits Blame Vapes for Breathing Problems

Lawsuits have been filed by people who were hospitalized and by family member's whose loved ones died from EVALI, or e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury (originally known as vaping associated pulmonary illness, or VAPI).

This type of vaping lung injury was first reported in mid-2019 and was quickly diagnosed in hundreds of people.

As of February 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had identified at least 2,807 hospitalized cases of vaping injuries. The CDC also confirmed 68 deaths from e cigarette use.

The CDC has also determined that vitamin E acetate was “strongly linked to the EVALI outbreak.”

San Francisco, the home to JUUL Labs, had already passed a so-called JUUL ban that prohibited e cigarette use in the city. Other cities and states launched similar vaping bans in the wake of the outbreak.

What is Vitamin E Acetate?

Vitamin E acetate is used as an additive in THC-containing e-cigarette or vaping products.

Vitamin E is a vitamin found in many foods, including vegetable oils, cereals, meat, fruits, and vegetables. It is also available as a dietary supplement and in many cosmetic products, like skin creams.

Vitamin E acetate usually does not cause harm when ingested as a vitamin supplement or applied to the skin. However, previous research suggests that when vitamin E acetate is inhaled during e-cigarette use, it may interfere with normal lung functioning.

Vapes a “Major Health Concern,” Surgeon General Report Says

January 16, 2017 - A new report from U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is calling e-cigarette use among young people in the U.S. a serious public health threat, drawing criticism over whether the practice is safer than traditional smoking.

The report found that e-cigarette use among U.S. high school students was up more than 900% since 2011, and described in scientific terms how young people with developing brains are sensitive to nicotine.

"I Almost Died": College Student Warns Against Vaping

After more than 2 years of unexplained health issues, pneumonia and an e-cigarette lung injury, 21-year-old college senior Brittany Wallace said enough was enough and is pleading with those who vape to stop.

Wallace, who grew up grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, said she was healthy until she started smoking e-cigarette and vape products.

"I remember we were studying for finals and then and she [my roommate] would just like go smoke," Wallace said. "She would come back and be so happy and in such a better mood. So, I started to smoke cigarettes with her and the taste was horrible. So, people were like, 'Oh, you should just pick up vaping, it tastes so much better.'"

Wallace said it did not take long before she was hooked on e-cigarette and vapes.

"I needed it, or I felt like I needed it after that. So, unfortunately, I couldn't keep it social. It was so that I even did it day in and day out," she explained.

Two years into her addiction, Wallace began suffering unexplained symptoms she attributed to a gallbladder problem or anemia. However, it was not until spring 2021 that she started to take her symptoms seriously.

"I'm feeling like I have allergies. So, I'm just like, 'OK, no big deal." You know, I'll take some Zyrtec," Wallace said. "A week passed, and like every day it just gets progressively worse ...

"So, I start treating cold symptoms, and it's just like again getting worse and worse and worse. And then on the day that I went to the hospital, I woke up at 2 a.m. and I want to say it was vomit, but it was not. Like, it was this clear fluid that was like literally, I was drowning in fluid and it was in my lungs."

Once at Central Baptist Health Hospital in Lexington, Wallace claims the medical team quickly diagnosed her with pneumonia and VALI.

"Usually pneumonia only affects like one lobe of your lungs, and on my X-ray, it's literally in every part of my lungs on both sides," Wallace said. "They were like, 'Are you a smoker?' I was like, 'Great, I've done it. Like, this is, this is my fault.'"

After 8 days in the ICU, Wallace was released to continue her recovery at home.

"I took a walk to my mailbox and it felt like 100 bricks were lying on my chest," she said, "It was crazy. and I have this horribly irritating cough."

She said her doctors told her she should recover but it will take time.

"They're just watching me with X-rays, CT scans and blood work and stuff like that," Wallace said. "But, I think just the exposure for so long to all the chemicals just really has taken a toll on my lungs. And even my voice sounds different now."

After what she claims was a near-death experience, Wallace said her goal is to prevent others from smoking e-cigarette and vapes.

"I literally told a girl on Man-O-War road yesterday because I saw her smoking -- I was just like, 'I was in the ICU for eight days. Please throw it out!' She was like, 'What?!'" Wallace said. "People probably think I'm crazy but I will holler at you from across the way. I don't care if I see you smoking, I'm gonna be like, 'You need to drop that.'"

FDA to Investigate Exploding Vapes

January 4, 2017 - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is planning to hold a 2-day public meeting in April to discuss the dangers of exploding batteries in e-cigarettes.

The Associated Press reported last month that the FDA had identified at least 66 vape explosions from 2015 to early 2016.

Idaho Man Injured in Vape Explosion

May 24, 2016 - Idaho Falls resident Trey Furniss switched to e cigarette use after smoking traditional cigarettes for 12 years because he thought it would be better for his health. Now he's questioning that decision, after being sent to the hospital with 3rd-degree burns after a vape exploded in his pocket last month at the Grand Teton Mall.

“We were putting the kids shoes on and I felt something get hot in my pocket and so I put my hand in my pocket and it just blew up… and white flames just shot out of the side of my pocket,” Furniss said.

He still has no idea why his vape exploded, although similar explosions have been caused by people using the wrong batteries or putting batteries inside their pocket with change. Furniss says the vape was the only thing in his pocket when the explosion occurred.

Feds Announce Strict New Regulations on Vapes, E-Cigs

May 9, 2016 - Vapes and e-cigs will now be regulated much like tobacco cigarettes and their sale to children banned, according to new FDA regulations (PDF) announced last week. Under the rules, the agency will have to approve all tobacco products that entered the U.S. market after Feb. 2007. The rule prohibits selling "covered tobacco products" to minors under the age of 18, and buyers must show photo ID.

It also requires health warnings be displayed on cigarette tobacco, roll-your own tobacco, and covered tobacco product packages and in advertisements; and bans free samples and the sale of covered products in vending machines not located in adult-only facilities.

Progress Against Vaping Shown in Texas, North Carolina

Big strides are being made against the spread of vape and e-cigarette products in Texas and North Carolina, according to The Orange Leader.

June 2021 saw Texas take action that would help limit underage access to vape and e-cigarette devices, while North Carolina took one of the biggest e-cigarette manufacturers to court over deceptive practices and won a large settlement.

On June 18, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 248 (5), which will make e-cigarette and vape retailers accountable for the sale of their products the same way tobacco retailers are held to account.

Twenty-seven senators and 97 representatives voted in favor of the legislation, while 3 senators and 51 representatives voted against it. Senate Bill 248 takes effect Sept. 1, and will regulate vape and e-cigarette retailers by requiring them to be permitted the same way tobacco retailers are currently regulated.

"Passing this bill into law was a great step towards regulating and maintaining oversight of the sales of vapes and e-cigarettes," said Kim Simmons, Director of Prevention Services for the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council of Deep East Texas. "The harder it is for minors to access tobacco and alcohol products, the more likely it is they’ll avoid the dangers of these addictive substances."

In 2020, over 32,000 youths between 12 and 18 years old in Deep East Texas used e-cigarette or vape products, according to the Texas School Survey. Statewide, more than 266,000 students had used them in 2020, the statewide survey found.

Texas reported more than 300 confirmed and probable cases and four deaths from EVALI as of March 2020.

Other states have noted problems associated with vaping and e-cigarette use, and North Carolina recently made headlines with its initiative against one of the biggest e-cigarette manufacturers.

On June 28, Attorney General Josh Stein announced the settlement of a lawsuit filed against JUUL, resulting in changes to the company’s business practices and $40 million to fight use and addiction to its product.

Per the settlement agreement, JUUL has to put an end to marketing strategies and content designed to attract young users – much in the same way tobacco companies targeted young people, which one company referred to as “replacement smokers.” The $40 million Juul will pay over the next 6 years will fund cessation and prevention programs.

“For years, JUUL targeted young people, including teens and young adult smokers, with its highly addictive e-cigarette. It lit the spark and fanned the flames of a vaping epidemic among our children,” Stein said in a statement about the case. “This win will go a long way in keeping JUUL products out of kids’ hands, keeping its chemical vapor out of their lungs, and keeping its nicotine from poisoning and addicting their brains.

JUUL still faces significant legal actions by other states, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading a 39-state coalition to investigate marketing and sales practices.

The use of vapes and e-cigarettes has been on the rise for years, to the point it was declared an epidemic in Dec. 2018 by U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams.

Vape Ads Target Millions of Teens, CDC Says

January 5, 2016 - Vape manufacturers are pouring tens of millions of dollars into advertising their products — and teenagers are responding, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (6) announced today. The agency says the trend threatens to derail decades of progress in helping prevent kids from taking up smoking.

Study Links Vaping to Cancer-Related Cell Damage

December 30, 2015 - A new study (7) has identified chemicals in the vapor of e-cigarettes that can damage cells in a way that could cause cancer. Human cells exposed to the vapors showed breaks in DNA strands (8) - a process that can lead to cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

Get a Free Vape Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers

The Product Liability & Defective Drug Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in vape lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.

We advise you to check out other product liability cases.

Free Confidential Case Evaluation: Again, if you or a loved one developed popcorn lung or other serious side effect from vaping, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and our lawyers can help.

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