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California sees first-ever wrongful death suit from vaping

On Behalf of | Nov 5, 2019 | Wrongful Death

Health authorities say America is experiencing an outbreak of deaths and serious injuries related to vaping.

A Florida mother mourning her 18-year-old son filed the world’s first wrongful death lawsuit associated with vaping. Because the target of the lawsuit is a company based in our state, she filed the suit here in a federal court.

Number of cases continues to surge

Reports of lung injuries in heavy users of vaping products began to spike late this past summer. By the first week of November 2019, the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that 1,888 cases had been reported in America and its territories.

Those cases include 37 deaths in 24 states, including three deaths in California. So far, 79% of patients are less than 35 years old.

As health authorities issue warnings, elected officials explore how to limit sales, and wrongful death lawsuits begin to be filed, the industry itself seems to be seeing a shakeup.

Walmart has announced it will get out of the e-cigarette business. The CEO of Juul (the brand consumers most closely associate with vaping) has stepped down, replaced by the former chief growth officer of Marlboro.

The first wrongful death lawsuit

According to the suit, the Florida teenager started using vaping products at age 15 after seeing advertising and quickly became addicted. His emotional health and school performance were hit hard, the lawsuit says.

Breathing and lung complications hospitalized him after less than a year of vaping, and the staff had to give him nicotine patches for the three days of his stay, according to the suit. In the pre-dawn hours one morning in August 2018, his father found him dead at home in his bed at 18 years old.

Symptoms to look for in yourself and loved ones

The CDC’s early-October news release called the condition by a name that had been circulating among experts. It was the first public use of the term EVALI, formed from the acronym for e-cigarette or vaping lung injury.

Its first noticeable symptoms are usually coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain, and nausea. Sometimes there is also a fever, fatigue, and weight loss. In a sign that their immune system is on high alert, patients usually have an elevated white blood cell count.