The suit also alleged that the man had become addicted in part due to Juul’s marketing strategy.
The e-cigarette company Juul has been sued by a Connecticut man who claimed that his addiction to their products caused him to experience a debilitating stroke.
Maxwell Berger, 22, said that he became addicted to Juul products while in high school, and within two years’ time, was using two cartridges a day.
In 2017, Berger claimed that he had a massive stroke that left him with left side paralysis, speech impairment and a 50% loss of vision in both eyes.
The suit also alleged that Berger had become addicted in part due to Juul’s marketing strategy, which targeted young people. In a statement to Forbes, a spokesperson for Juul said that the lawsuit was “without merit.”
The suit was filed in San Franscisco County Superior Court by Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, a law firm that has been involved in numerous cases involving corporations and suits against tobacco companies.
As Forbes noted, the suit alleged that Juul was responsible for fraudulent concealment and intentional misrepresentation of the products and their risks, as well as negligence in promoting and selling them to people under the age of 26.
In the suit, Berger claimed that he developed a dependency on Juul products in the summer of 2015 after his last year of high school. Within two years’ time, he was vaping every 10 minutes, interrupting family meals to use his device and ultimately consuming two cartridges, or pods, per day.
Berger claimed that in July 2017, his Juul consumption caused him to have a massive hemorrhagic stroke that required three brain surgeries and more than 100 days in the hospital.
As Forbes noted, the suit alleged that Berger was left with “catastrophic and permanent injuries,” including paralysis, impaired speech and loss of vision in both eyes.
Juul spokesperson Ted Kwong told Forbes in a statement, “We do not want non-nicotine users, especially youth, to use our product. To this end, we have launched an aggressive action plan to combat underage use, as it is antithetical to our mission. To the extent these cases allege otherwise, they are without merit and we will defend our mission throughout this process.”
To deter interest in their product by young people, Juul has shuttered its social media accounts in the United States and eliminated its fruit-flavored products while also supporting initiatives that would increase the minimum smoking age to 21.
For critics, such efforts have come too late. They point to Juul’s early advertising campaign, which featured young models, bright colors and meme-like text—elements that could appeal to younger consumers.
Juul co-founder Adam Bowen later said that these early ads were “inappropriate,” but also suggested that they had “no impact on sales.”