Juul Labs Inc and Altria Group Inc are asking the California federal court to throw out claims from seven government entities, saying they have failed to link their public nuisance claims to anything the companies have done.
In a pair of motions, Juul and Altria took aim at claims from the Tucson Unified School District; the School Board of Broward County, Florida; Central Bucks School District; the School Board of Escambia County, Florida; Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District; the County of Santa Cruz; and Three Village Central School District, each of which filed a complaint against the companies in May.
In their complaints, the institutions allege they had to spend resources to combat the consequences of nicotine addiction that they say Juul and Altria pushed by hiding the risks of addiction and by marketing the products to youths.
In its motion, Juul called the entities’ claims “expansive and unfounded,” arguing that courts in the five states the plaintiffs are based in have rejected attempts to use public nuisance law in cases of defective products or deceptive marketing. Additionally, Juul told the court it owes the entities no duty of care, as they never bought Juul’s products, and they cannot now claim damages as a third party to consumer transactions.
A Juul spokesperson said that the company will respond to the complaints’ allegations through its legal channels, adding it intends to work with state officials to deter underage use. The e-cigarette manufacturer said it has already stopped the sale of flavored products, ended TV, print, and digital advertising, and is preparing a premarket tobacco product application for the USDA.
Representatives for Altria and the government plaintiffs could not immediately be reached for comment.