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

Jumbo Valley to be protected, ending decades-long dispute over proposed ski resort

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

Matt Andersen to tear it up in Cranbrook

Canadian singer, songwriter and guitarist showcasing new album at February concert at Key City Theatre

It happened this week in 1913

Jan. 12 -18: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the newspapers at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

COTR Avalanche back in action for 2020

The College of the Rockies Avalanche volleyball teams are back in action… Continue reading

RCMP, Conservation officers, locals attempt to save elk in frozen river

Local emergency services personnel teamed up with rural residents to try and… Continue reading

VIDEO: Cold snap brings ideal conditions for Okanagan icewine

Take an inside look at how icewine is made

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Most Read