Unprecedented in scope, speed, and significance, the global settlement, reached just after plaintiffs concluded their case in the bellwether trial in San Francisco, is the culmination of four years of a vast, unrelenting effort by plaintiffs and their counsel to hold Altria accountable for the 21st century’s ‘cigarettes redux’ youth nicotine plague
May 10, 2023, San Francisco—(BUSINESSWIRE)—Plaintiffs’ Co-Lead Counsel announce a comprehensive and historic $235 million settlement with Altria in the sprawling nationwide JUUL e-cigarette youth vaping predatory advertising, fraud, addiction and injury litigation currently facing bellwether trial in San Francisco. The settlement will resolve all remaining personal injury, consumer class action, and government entity cases brought in the national MDL and the JCCP in California against Altria (the earlier phase of the vast litigation ended in late 2022 when JUUL entered into four coordinated settlements with all plaintiff parties).
“To call this global settlement with Altria momentous is an understatement,” states Lieff Cabraser partner Sarah R. London, Co-Lead Counsel for Plaintiffs in the litigation. “Unprecedented in speed of attainment, scope, and impact, it will provide extraordinary and truly meaningful relief for youth, parents, and governmental organizations nationwide in a comprehensive resolution that avoids the delay of further trial and possible appeals, bringing closure to litigation brought on behalf of children, teens, young adults, parents, schools, health departments, and really, on behalf of everyone across the nation. This is an extraordinary outcome. We could not be more proud of the courage, resolution and persistence of our clients, and are delighted with this superlative result.”
Together with the earlier settlements with JUUL in the federal multidistrict litigation captioned In re: Juul Labs, Inc., Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2913, and the coordinated proceeding captioned Juul Labs Product Cases, JCCP No. 5052, the settlements with Altria (nee Philip Morris) announced today will directly address youth use of e-cigarettes nationwide.
The Altria settlement follows four years of hard-fought litigation in both state and federal court. Co-Lead Counsel believe that resolving the litigation against Altria and its officers and directors through settlement is categorically in the best interests of all plaintiffs. The settlement builds on Plaintiffs’ earlier successful efforts to hold Juul itself accountable, and will provide monetary relief as well as continuing mandatory changes to Juul/Altria’s marketing and other practices, including prohibitions on youth marketing and the sale of flavors not authorized by the FDA.
The Altria settlement brings a final resolution to the personal injury, consumer class action, and government entity cases brought in the MDL and the JCCP brought on behalf of children and families everywhere in the U.S.
This last-shoe-dropping settlement in the JUUL e-cigarette youth harm cases will provide meaningful compensation to people suffering from nicotine addiction and other injuries, and will further remunerate consumers who purchased JUUL products as well as providing new and much-needed resources to school districts, cities, and counties to abate youth nicotine addiction in their communities.
The Altria settlements include over 8,500 personal injury cases, and over 1,400 government entity cases, and a massive class of consumers. “The scope of these suits is beyond vast,” London also notes. “This settlement, in combination with the earlier JUUL settlements, marks a stunning and complete resolution of the JUUL/Altria litigation, and adds substantial additional compensation for victims and their families, get real funds to schools for abatement programs, and help local governments further prevent youth use of e-cigarettes across America.”
The Court will hold a hearing in the near future to review the proposed class settlement. If the settlement receives preliminary approval, a Class Settlement Administrator will be appointed to structure and initiate a formal claims process. At that time, the Class Settlement Administrator will notify class members about their rights under the Settlement. Concurrently, a claims process will begin for the Personal Injury and Government Entity settlements.
LIEFF CABRASER HEIMANN & BERNSTEIN, LLP
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Telephone: (415) 956-1000
Email: slondon (at) lchb.com