Will I Need to Testify in My JUUL/Vaping Case?

The plaintiff's deposition testimony is very likely in a lawsuit over vaping-related illness, but trial testimony probably won't happen.

By , J.D.

Illnesses linked to JUUL and other e-cigarettes have led to thousands of lawsuits over the safety and marketing of these vaping products. If you're considering a legal claim over health problems related to your use of JUUL/e-cigarettes, an initial concern might be whether or not you'll need to testify as part of the case. The short answer is probably yes. But when and where?

Plaintiff's Testimony In a JUUL/Vaping Case

There are usually two potential times when a plaintiff (the person filing a JUUL lawsuit) will need to testify. The first is during discovery, when the defendant (typically a company like Juul Labs Inc. or some other manufacturer of a vaping product) asks to take the plaintiff's deposition. The second potential setting for the plaintiff's testimony is during trial.

Deposition Testimony

A deposition is a question-and-answer session in which a person (whether a party to a lawsuit or a witness) answers questions under oath. In case over the safety of an e-cigarette product, the defendant (usually through a team of attorneys) will want to take a plaintiff's deposition for a number of reasons, including:

  • to get an idea of how credible and sympathetic the plaintiff might come across to a jury
  • to find out more about the plaintiff's legal claims (including details of the plaintiff's diagnosis of health problems allegedly linked to use of JUUL/e-cigarettes)
  • to obtain additional information that may support or refute a potential legal argument
  • to get the plaintiff to confirm a particular statement or fact while under oath
  • to get information to potentially contradict something the plaintiff already said or might say in the future, and
  • to ask questions that might lead to new information.

Trial Testimony

Most JUUL/vaping illness cases reach a settlement, so it's rare for these lawsuits to reach the trial stage. And while a plaintiff is not legally required to testify at trial, it's usually expected. When a plaintiff doesn't take the witness stand and testify, the judge or jury deciding the case might assume there's a weakness in the evidence, or that there's something the plaintiff is trying to hide.

But more importantly, a plaintiff's testimony can be very compelling, especially to a juror. Almost no other piece of evidence from the plaintiff can convey the extent of the harm and other losses the plaintiff has experienced.

Likelihood of Plaintiff's Testimony in a JUUL Case

It's likely that the plaintiff will at least need to testify in a deposition. As mentioned above, most e-cigarette/vaping cases reach settlement, but it's rare for any kind of resolution to take place before the two sides go through the information-gathering "discovery" process. A key tool in this process is the deposition. At a minimum, it will give the defendant an idea of what to expect from the plaintiff should they testify at trial.

While the plaintiff's deposition might not be as important as certain others—expert witness testimony typically looms largest in a JUUL/vaping case—the defendant will want the opportunity to ask the plaintiff about a number of details related to the case, especially if the drug manufacturer believes that:

  • the true nature and extent of the plaintiff's claimed illness is different from what's being alleged, or that
  • a preexisting condition or some other cause might explain the plaintiff's illness.

The likelihood of a plaintiff testifying at trial is much lower, simply because there's little chance of a trial actually taking place. But when a JUUL case does make it all the way to trial, the plaintiff's testimony will only improve his or her chances of winning, since:

  • The plaintiff's own words will help bolster the case. In many lawsuits over the safety of a vaping/e-cigarette product, a plaintiff will want to recover compensation for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other damages that are fairly subjective from person to person. No one knows more about these damages (and their impact) than the plaintiff.
  • The defendant might contend that the plaintiff should have done more to reduce any harm or lessen the impact of any illness that could be linked to vaping/e-cigarettes. The plaintiff will want an opportunity to refute this argument.

If you're thinking about filing a lawsuit over health problems that could be related to your use of a vaping product like JUUL, a lawyer can help you develop the best strategy for your case. Learn more about finding the right attorney for your JUUL case and how your lawyer will be paid.

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