Ex-Juul Labs Executive Says Enterprise Knowingly Shipped A Million Tainted Pods

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A Juul Labs executive who was fired earlier this year is alleging that the vaping firm knowingly shipped 1 million tainted nicotine pods to prospects.

The allegation comes in a lawsuit
filed Tuesday by lawyers representing Siddharth Breja, a a single-time
finance executive at the e-cigarette maker. The suit claims that Breja
was terminated just after opposing firm practices, like shipping the
contaminated flavored pods and not listing expiration dates on Juul
merchandise.

The lawsuit does not specify the contamination situation or
how it occurred. Lawyers for Breja declined to elaborate on the situation
Wednesday.

A Juul spokesman stated in a statement that the claims
are “baseless” and that Breja was terminated simply because he failed to
“demonstrate the leadership qualities” essential for the job.

Juul,
the finest-promoting e-cigarette brand in the U.S., has been besieged by
criticism amid an explosion of underage vaping. The firm faces
various investigations by federal and state officials as nicely as
lawsuits by households of teenagers who claim they became hooked on
nicotine via the company’s vapes.

Breja worked in Juul’s
international finance division significantly less than 10 months. The lawsuit, filed in the
Northern District of California, seeks damages for lost salary, bonuses
and Juul stock, which it values at extra than $10 million.

BuzzFeed News initially reported the lawsuit.

Breja
describes a “reckless” and “win-at-all costs” culture at Juul,
mostly driven by the company’s former CEO, Kevin Burns, who was
replaced in a management shake-up final month.

Breja says he
discovered in March that some batches of nicotine option utilized in the
company’s mint pods had been contaminated. Breja claims that firm
management shipped roughly a single million pods impacted by the situation and
failed to situation a recall or public announcement.

Juul’s spokesman rejected Breja’s account saying the firm “determined the solution met all applicable specifications.”

When
Breja protested the selection to ship the pods, the lawsuit alleges, his
supervisor at Juul reminded him that “stockholders would drop
substantial private wealth should really he make his issues public.”

The
lawsuit alleges that Burns “berated employees” to ramp up production of
mint-flavored pods, a move that “compromised high-quality handle measures.”
The concentrate on mint came just after the firm voluntarily pulled its mango,
fruit and other candy-flavored pods out of retail retailers, below stress
from overall health authorities.

The lawsuit alleges that Juul’s outdoors
consultants assured the firm that mint “given its fruity flavor,
would make up for any lack of sales of other flavored pods.”

“You
require to have an IQ of five to know that when prospects do not come across mango
they get mint,” Burns told workers, according to the lawsuit.

Breja
claims he was wrongfully terminated the week just after raising his issues
about the contaminated mint pods. Since he had worked at the firm
for significantly less than a year he did not get firm stock that his lawyers
claim would be worth “eight figures at its present valuation.”

In
an earlier conflict with Juul management, Breja says he urged executives
to add expiration or “best by” dates to the flavored pods.

The
lawsuit claims Burns rejected the concept, stating: “Half our prospects are
drunk and vaping like mo-fo’s, who the f— is going to notice the
high-quality of our pods.”

Juul’s web-site states that its pods are intended for use “soon just after obtain.”

Final
month Burns was replaced by K.C. Crosthwaite, a former executive for
Altria, the Significant Tobacco firm that owns a 35% stake in privately held
Juul.

In the final two years, the San Francisco firm has grow to be
the principal target of a nationwide backlash against e-cigarettes, with
parents, politicians and overall health advocates blaming the firm for the
current vaping craze amongst young folks.

According to the most current
government survey, extra than 1 in four higher college students reported working with
e-cigarettes in the prior month, regardless of federal law banning sales to
these below 18.

In a separate overall health situation, federal officials are
investigating extra than 1,600 instances of lung harm linked to vaping,
like almost 3 dozen deaths. Numerous individuals stated they vaped THC,
marijuana’s intoxicating chemical, but officials have not but implicated
any single solution or ingredient.

Juul has produced a series of
voluntary concessions in an work to climate the firestorm. It is halted
marketing and suspended sales of its fruit and dessert flavored pods.
The firm continues to sell mint, menthol and tobacco flavors.

The
Trump administration announced plans final month to take away practically all
vaping flavors from the marketplace, leaving only tobacco.

But public
overall health advocates are concerned the administration could back away from
its strategy to ban mint and menthol, the most common flavors amongst youth.

Final
month extra than 50 overall health groups, like the American Lung
Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, sent a letter to
initially lady Melania Trump urging the administration to comply with via on
its initial proposal.

“If the target is to take away the e-cigarettes
that are most appealing to youth, any proposal that ignores mint and
menthol flavors falls quick,” the groups stated.

By Matthew Perrone



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