The lawsuit against Altria, brought by Lieff Cabraser and co-counsel on behalf of the San Francisco Unified School District, moves forward on all counts after major settlements reached with Juul Labs

As reported by Law360, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick has denied Altria’s summary judgment motion in the bellwether vaping fraud and teen injuries litigation filed by Lieff Cabraser and co-counsel against Juul. This decision comes after Juul Labs reached settlements with several plaintiffs, including the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). However, the settlement did not include Juul investor Altria, the parent company of Phillip Morris.

“My expectation is that this bellwether will raise many of the common evidence, theories, and defenses that will be raised in the other cases in this MDL,” noted Judge Orrick. “As a result, I am interested in getting as complete an evidentiary record on which I can evaluate the parties’ positions as possible, which means that I will determine some issues post-trial,” he said.

The upcoming bellwether trial, scheduled to begin on April 24, will see SFUSD arguing that Juul intentionally marketed its products to children. The lawsuit against Altria moves forward on all counts, including allegations of misrepresentation, false advertising, and teen addiction injuries.

Acknowledging the “weighty” arguments presented by the plaintiffs, Judge Orrick ruled that SFUSD should be allowed to continue its public nuisance claim as it relates to property damage. The definition of property damage and the scope of damages or nature of abatement to which SFUSD might be entitled will be decided post-trial.

As the bellwether trial unfolds, the outcome is expected to influence other cases in the MDL. SFUSD plans to use any awarded funds to bolster efforts in reducing and deterring youth nicotine use among students.

The full article is available on Law360’s website (subscription required).

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