Litigation Update: Altria and Juul File Motions to Dismiss Racketeering and Warranty Claims

by | Jan 18, 2021

In a motion filed on January 4, Altria and Juul asked the judge presiding over the federal multidistrict litigation to throw out racketeering and warranty claims brought against them by plaintiffs who claim the companies’ product design and deceptive advertising fueled the vaping epidemic and spurred the rise of nicotine addiction in minors.

The plaintiffs claimed that the conduct of Juul and Altria  targeted minors with deceptive social media advertising with the intent of hooking young people on nicotine. Plaintiffs further alleged that the conduct constituted a RICO violation insofar as Juul and Altria executives conspired for the common purpose of “maintaining and expanding the number of nicotine-addicted e-cigarette users” to grow Juul’s “massive, and ill-gotten, share of the e-cigarette market.”

In their Motion to Dismiss, defendants argued that the plaintiffs’ arguments defied basic RICO law, maintaining the companies were only involved in ordinary corporate activities.  

In October, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick denied the RICO claims previously filed against the companies stating they were not specific enough. The most recent Motion provides more detail but defendants contend that the allegations remain inadequate.

In a separate Motion to Dismiss, the defendants claim that the plaintiffs’ claim for breach of implied warranty under California loss should be denied, citing insufficient support.

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