Secured $60.5 Million Settlement, Resolving the State of Minnesota’s Youth Vaping Epidemic Claims Against JUUL and Altria
April 17, 2023
State of Minnesota v. Juul Labs, Inc. et al., Case No. 27-CV-19-19888
Robins Kaplan partnered with the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, and Zimmerman Reed to sue e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL on behalf of the State of Minnesota for deceptively marketing its tobacco products and targeting Minnesota’s youth for profit. Cigarette manufacturer Altria (formerly Phillip Morris) was also named in the suit as a result of the marketing and sales services it provided JUUL in Minnesota. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants violated Minnesota’s consumer protection laws and created a public nuisance.
The suit detailed how JUUL developed e-cigarette flavors and devices that were appealing to youth and how their youth-oriented marketing tactics attracted and addicted a new generation of young people to nicotine. Altria was included as a defendant in 2020 after acquiring a 35% share of JUUL for $12.8 billion and providing services to expand the reach of JUUL in Minnesota.
Over a dozen states and hundreds of local governments have brought similar suits against JUUL for their deceptive marketing, but in 2023 Minnesota became the first state in the nation to go to trial. After a three-week trial, a settlement was reached on the eve of jury deliberations. Over an eight-year period, JUUL and Altria will pay a combined total of $60.5 million to the State of Minnesota. This is the largest per capita settlement of all 48 states and territories that have settled with JUUL. The settlement amount exceeds the total profits JUUL and Altria earned from JUUL sales in Minnesota and imposes on the companies various marketing and sales limitations to prevent future youth use of these products. The result also highlights Robins Kaplan’s willingness to take matters to trial when needed to achieve a favorable outcome.
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