Ex-Juul Official Makes Huge Claim in Lawsuit

Siddharth Breja says the company sold a million contaminated nicotine pods
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2019 7:00 PM CDT
Ex-Juul Official Makes Huge Claim in Lawsuit
In this Feb. 20, 2014, file photo, a patron exhales vapor from an e-cigarette at a store in New York.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

Looks like Juul's lawyers won't be sleeping much tonight. A former executive at the e-cigarette company says Juul sold a million contaminated nicotine pods and fired him for complaining about it, BuzzFeed reports. Siddharth Breja, ex-senior vice president for global finance, made the allegations in a Tuesday lawsuit. He says he learned in March about roughly 250,000 mint refill kits—equivalent to a million pods—that had been sent to retailers for sale to customers. He doesn't name the contaminant, but says Juul refused to "issue a product recall for the contaminated pods, or at a minimum issue a public health and safety notice to consumers." He also claims Juul told him to charge e-liquid supplier Alternative Ingredients, Inc., $7 million for the bad batches.

Breja was worried about "this hypocritical approach of not informing the customers about the contamination on one hand (claiming it was not a serious issue) and charging the supplier for it on the other hand," the suit says. In another case, Breja says he complained in February about the company planning to resell pods that were nearly a year old. But former CEO Kevin Burns allegedly dismissed his concern, saying "half our customers are drunk and vaping" and won't "notice the quality of our pods." Burns and Juul have already issued denials of Breja's claims, per the New York Times. But they raise a question: Is the current spate of lung injuries—including 1,604 cases and 34 fatalities—really caused by black-market THC, as some public health officials have said? (Juul recently cut four products.)

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