Can I File an E-Cigarette Lawsuit If I Vaped Marijuana?

Vaping marijuana shouldn’t prevent you from filing a lawsuit against an e-cigarette company, but it can make it harder to win your case.

The legal system and the general public are now more accepting of marijuana use. Many states and localities now have laws that allow marijuana use for medicinal or recreational purposes. At the same time, the use of e-cigarette products like JUUL® (and a whole host of others) has been on the rise in recent years.

But what happens if you used marijuana with or alongside e-cigarettes, suffered lung illness or other harm, and now want to bring a lawsuit against an e-cigarette manufacturer? The answer will largely depend on who you are suing and your history of smoking/e-cigarette use.

How Vaping Marijuana Works

One of the reasons vaping marijuana is so popular is the perception that it's safer than smoking marijuana. In some respects, this is true, as the user can avoid inhaling tar and particulates associated with smoking, although there are still some risks, which can vary depending on how an individual decides to vape marijuana.

One option is to vape a cannabis flower with the use of a vaporizer. Another option involves using a vaporizer, but instead of heating the cannabis flower, the individual heats a special liquid concentration containing a cannabinoid, such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) or CBD (cannabidiol). It's this second option that can result in greater injuries while vaping.

Negative Health Effects From Vaping a Concentrated Liquid

A plaintiff who decides to sue an e-cigarette company for any kind of vaping-related illness will probably allege one or more of the following types of harm:

  • chronic lung disease
  • heart problems
  • respiratory failure
  • lung injuries, such as "popcorn lung", and
  • nicotine poisoning (which can cause seizure, strokes, blood clots, and other complications).

Not everyone who vapes will experience these effects, of course, and different results can be expected when a consumer uses an e-cigarette product like Juul on its own, versus when something is added to the e-cigarette—like cannabis oil or some other commercial or homegrown product. For example, vitamin E acetate is a common ingredient in liquid vaping products containing THC. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vitamin E acetate may be responsible for creating lung damage, including a condition known as "e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury," also known as EVALI.

Additionally, THC vaping liquids often contain polyethylene glycol or propylene glycol. Even though the effects of these substances on human health are not fully understood, some data indicate that the use of these ingredients in e-cigarettes may increase the risk of asthma or cause upper respiratory irritation. (What about coronavirus infection?)

Suing an E-Cigarette Company for Vaping Injuries

Using a vaping product containing a cannabinoid will likely have little effect on whether you can sue for vaping-related injuries. The real issue is how it will affect your chances of winning. Let's look at two scenarios to illustrate how vaping marijuana could affect your case.

In the first scenario, let's say that in addition to vaping products containing cannabinoids, you also use other vaping products, such as flavored liquids. Let's also assume that you purchased your vaping products from many different companies. After using these various vaping products for some time, you encounter lung problems. You decide to only file a lawsuit against the company that made the flavored vaping liquid, and not sue the company that made the vaping liquid containing THC.

During the lawsuit, the defendant is almost certainly going to argue that your injuries were the result of using the products containing THC. At the very least, they're going to argue that they are only partially responsible for your injuries, with the other companies that sold you marijuana vaping products also bearing responsibility. (Basically, you're going to have difficulty proving that the defendant you decided to sue is legally responsible for your harm).

Even if you sued all of the companies that sold you vaping products, you will need to find a way to convince a jury or judge that all of them contributed to your injuries. And if all the companies aren't responsible for your injuries, you'll have to find a way to separate the responsible companies from those who bear no amount of fault. No easy task.

In the second scenario, imagine you purchased all of your vaping products from a single company like Juul, and you didn't alter the product in any way, or add anything to it (like cannabis oil or another THC substance). Should you decide to bring a lawsuit for vaping-related injuries, it will be pretty easy to decide who to sue. And while you aren't guaranteed to win your case, the defendant will have a more difficult time placing the blame on any other party.

The bottom line is that vaping marijuana will not automatically prevent you from filing a lawsuit against an e-cigarette or vaping company. But depending on who you are suing, it could make winning your lawsuit a bit more difficult. This is one of many reasons why working with an attorney can be crucial in your JUUL/vaping lawsuit.

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