Media reports have chronicled a former Juul executive alleging in a lawsuit that Juul shipped out 1 million contaminated e-cigarette pods earlier this year; as reported by the news outlet Buzzfeed, the company chose not to tell customers or issue a recall.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by Siddharth Breja, a former senior vice president of global finance who worked at the San Francisco–based company from May 2018 to March 2019. In the lawsuit — filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California on the same day that Juul confirmed its plans to lay off about 500 people — Breja claims he was retaliated against for raising concerns about the contaminated shipment. — Buzzfeed news account
The executive also argued that he showed concern when Juul wanted to resell pods that were in February 2019 almost one year old. He spoke out against their resale and urged the company to at least include an expiration or “best by” date, or a date of manufacture, on the packaging. The lawsuit claims that then-CEO Kevin Burns rejected his protest.
“Mr. Breja became aware of very concerning actions at the company, and he performed his duty to shareholders and to the board by reporting these issues internally. In exchange for doing that, he was inappropriately terminated. This is very concerning, particularly since some of the issues he raised concerned matters of public safety.” – Harmeet Dhillon to Buzzfeed
The Juul death toll has risen to 34, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced last week. The number of vaping-related illnesses has also increased to 1,604 people in 49 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. As the CDC and FDA are both investigating, each figure is expected to increase.