Siddharth Breja, former SVP of Finance at Juul, filed a multi-claim lawsuit against the company alleging that Juul sold contaminated liquid pods with total disregard for the “law, public safety, and public health.” Breja claims Juul sold 1 million of the mint-flavored, contaminated pods, as well as pods that were expired or nearly expired. He also claims he was fired as a whistleblower for warning against the “illegal” activity. The claims include:
- Violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act
- Violation of the California Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act
- Wrongful Termination
- Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing
- Breach of CA Business & Professions Code §17200: Unfair competition which includes any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice and unfair, deceptive, untrue or misleading advertising
- Intentional Infliction of Emotional Stress
Breja states in his lawsuit that Juul teams were warned not to put any information in writing related to problems with product because the “FDA would be able to obtain those writings in further raids” of the company. His filing included an allegation of an oft-repeated quote by then-CEO, Kevin Burns, that was not only profanity-infused, but incredibly derogatory to its customers: “Half our customers are drunk and vaping like [profanity], who the [profanity] is going to notice the quality of our pods?”
Also damning, but not really surprising, is Breja’s claim that the company’s business model was developed based on tobacco company’s playbook. Breja quotes cofounder, James Monsees’ statements in Congressional hearings on Juul, that they were “intrigued” by so much available information forced out of the tobacco companies’ Master Settlement that Juul was able to catch up, right, to a huge, huge industry, in no time. “And then we started building prototypes.”
Juul is now under control of one of those very same tobacco companies—Altria, a big tobacco company and Juul’s biggest investor, took control of Juul’s top executive positions earlier this year.
Breja’s statements, from an insider at top levels of the organization, are likely to support other lawsuits that allege Juul has broken the law, manufacturers a dangerous product, falsely advertises its product, and has no regard for the safety or welfare of its customers.
Juul now faces a wealth of lawsuits for similar claims; for causing nicotine addiction in teens and adults; and, for personal injury that also raise the question of whether any of the Vape Lung cases are related to its product. I think it’s safe to say Juul is in trouble.