FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — A Pee Dee school district’s lawsuit against the maker and distributors of Juul e-cigarette products could be consolidated with hundreds of similar cases nationwide.
The Marlboro County School District sued Juul Labs Inc., Altria Group Inc., Altria Client Services, the Altria Group Distribution Compay, Nu Mark LLC, Philip Morris USA Inc. others last month in county common pleas court, but lawyers for the defendant filed a “notice of removal” on Thursday to have the case taken out of state court and said it should be consolidated with other similar cases in federal court.
Marlboro County is one of the latest districts to sue over e-cigarettes. Horry County Schools voted in September to join a long list of school districts across South Carolina and nationwide that have taken similar action.
Juul and the other defendants want the Marlboro County case consolidated with others across the country, according to the notice of removal filed on Thursday.
“In view of the substantial overlap between this action and the thousands of actions that have already been transferred and consolidated, JLI intends to notify the [Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation] that this is another ‘tag along’ action that should be transferred to the Northern District of California.”
The Marlboro district claims in court documents that Juul’s marketing of its products was “patently youth oriented” and that the company “used Big Tobacco’s advertising imagery, but coupled it with a modern, state-of-the-art marketing campaign designed to target youth,” the lawsuit says.
The district said the company also “designed its devices to be highly addictive” and “deliberately” hid information from users about nicotine contained in its products.
The district’s lawsuit filed in November seeks an order declaring the company’s actions a public nuisance and and “relief to fund prevention education and addiction treatment, as well as to abate the nuisance. It also asked for actual, compensatory and punitive damages.