On February 19, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ann Jones, who has been selected to preside over the consolidated California state court lawsuits against JUUL Labs, appointed a number of attorneys to lead the litigation against the San Francisco-based manufacturer. The team of lawyers will oversee the nearly 100 lawsuits that have been filed in state court; the cases allege that the e-cigarette manufacturer has created a vaping epidemic throughout the state among its young people through deceptive marketing practices that sought to mislead consumers into thinking its products are less addictive than traditional cigarettes. The lawsuits also claim that the epidemic constitutes a public health crisis that endangers students’ academic performance as well as their health.
John Fiske of Baron & Budd and Rahul Ravipudi of Panish Shea & Boyle LLP have been appointed to serve as counsel to public entities such as schools, including the Los Angeles and San Diego school districts. Other attorneys who will assume leadership roles include Rick Meadow of The Lanier Law Firm, Adam Pulaski of Pulaski Kherkher and Robert Binstock of Reich & Binstock as members of the Plaintiffs Steering Committee, and Brooks Cutter of Cutter Law, Francois Blandeau of Heninger Garrison Davis, Frederick Darley of Beasley Allen Crow Methvin Portis & Miles PC, Lewis Garrison of Heninger Garrison Davis, Hirlye Lutz of Cory Watson and Jacob Plattenberger of TorHoerman Law. Thomas Girardi of Girardi Keese and Ray Boucher of Boucher LLP will serve as private liaison counsel and Paul Kiesel of Kiesel Law and Mark Robinson will represent private plaintiffs, – those individuals with health claims bringing suits against JUUL.
William Levin of Levin Simes Abrams LLP and Dan Robinson of Robinson Calcagnie Inc. will be liaisons to the separate federal MDL also pending in California.
Judge Jones indicated in a public hearing on January 28 that she was seeking “common initial discovery” to prepare for upcoming bellwether trials.