How Long Will My JUUL/E-Cigarette Lawsuit Take?

It's tough to predict when a vaping-related illness lawsuit case will get resolved, but here's what to keep in mind.

By , J.D.

If you're experiencing health problems related to your use of JUUL or another vaping/e-cigarette product, and you're considering a lawsuit against the product manufacturer, you're likely wondering about the process and what to expect in terms of timing. Whether you've been diagnosed with respiratory problems, a lung disease, or some other condition, the first thing to know is that like any other kind of personal injury case, a typical JUUL/vaping illness claim proceeds through a number of distinct stages. And while every case is different, a number of factors will determine the timeline of these cases.

The JUUL/Vaping Lawsuit Process

Here's a snapshot of the key phases of a typical lawsuit over the safety of an e-cigarette/vaping product:

  • The consumer (now the "plaintiff") files a civil complaint in court. The complaint is the document that starts a personal injury lawsuit. It describes the plaintiff's case and claims against the "defendant"—usually a manufacturer like Juul Labs Inc., and/or the retailer that sold the vaping product. Note that plaintiffs sometimes name multiple defendants if it's not clear who bears ultimate responsibility. (Learn more about liability for vaping-related illness.)
  • The defendant files an answer to the complaint.
  • The discovery process begins: The plaintiff and defendant exchange information, medical records, and other evidence through written questions (interrogatories), sworn testimony (depositions), and document requests.
  • Pre-trial motions are filed and hearings are held: Both sides of the lawsuit try to persuade the judge to allow or disallow certain evidence (testimony from a proposed medical expert, for example) or to dismiss all or part of the other side's argument.
  • Trial takes place: The plaintiff and defendant carefully set out their arguments in front of the judge or jury, and the judge or jury decides whether the defendant should be held financially responsible for the plaintiff's health problems and other losses (damages) tied to use of the e-cigarette/vaping product.

Those are the basics of the process, but the two sides could discuss (and finalize) a settlement at any point (more on this later). Now let's take a closer look at factors that have the biggest impact on how long the vaping-related illness lawsuit process might take.

JUUL/E-Cigarette Cases Can Be Complicated

Most JUUL lawsuits rely on the legal concept of product liability, in which a plaintiff seeks to hold a manufacturer responsible for health problems caused by an unreasonably dangerous or otherwise defective product. These kinds of cases can be quite complex. There may be issues to address right at the outset, including the appropriate statute-of-limitations filing deadline in light of the plaintiff's symptoms. And there will certainly be stacks of medical records to sift through, plus expert witnesses to hear from (often multiple experts on both sides of the case).

All this means some of the phases mentioned above will undoubtedly take longer than they might in a less complex lawsuit (one stemming from a car accident, for example). That's especially true when it comes to the discovery process and the filing of pretrial motions that will set the ground rules for any trial.

The court's calendar may also affect the timeline of a lawsuit over the safety of a vaping product. If the calendar is clogged, hearing and trial dates might get pushed back by weeks or months.

Your JUUL Lawsuit Could Settle at Any Time

As discussed above, any vaping/e-cigarette lawsuit is bound to follow roughly the same path from the filing of the complaint through a trial, but it's important to note that settlement of the lawsuit can take place at any time.

For example, soon after the complaint is filed the plaintiff's attorney could send a demand letter to the other side, detailing the plaintiff's harm and asking for a certain dollar amount as compensation. This letter could spur serious settlement talks, and if a settlement agreement is reached before trial, the lawsuit will be dismissed.

Especially as the trial date gets closer and the parties get a better sense of the case landscape (and of their respective chances of prevailing), there's a good chance they'll at least test the settlement waters. And even if the two sides don't come together on their own to try to resolve the case out of court, depending on the jurisdiction in which the lawsuit is filed, the court is almost certain to require that the plaintiff and defendant attend at least one mandatory settlement conference before trial takes place. Learn more about how personal injury settlements work.

The Timeline Is (Partly) up to You

One of the biggest variables in determining how long your vaping/e-cigarette lawsuit will take is you. If the defendant offers you a settlement early on, you'll certainly end up with some fast cash, but you might not be getting full and fair compensation for your losses. (More: How much is a JUUL case worth?)

Early settlement usually isn't a good idea if there are still big unknowns, including:

Before any of the formal litigation steps described in this article, the first move for a potential plaintiff is consulting an experienced attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer will be able to explain the rules in your jurisdiction and your strategic options. An attorney can present the pros and cons of settlement, including the fact that once you settle, you can't go back and ask for more money, even if it turns out your injuries are worse than you first thought. Learn how to find the right lawyer for you and your JUUL case.

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