LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The city of Louisville has filed a lawsuit against the largest seller and manufacturer of e-cigarettes and vaping products for what it says is its role in "fueling the community health crisis of nicotine addiction, especially among young people."
According to a news release, the lawsuit against JUUL Labs Inc. was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The suit was filed under the direction of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell.
The lawsuit seeks damages to help the city fight what it calls, "the health crisis of nicotine addiction that has impacted the city."
According to the news release, Kentucky has the second-highest use of e-cigarette use in the country. The lawsuit alleges that JUUL is responsible for "an explosion of nicotine use and addiction, here and across the country."
"From the very first day that I took office, my team and I have been working to make Louisville a healthier city, because health is the foundational element of everything we do as people and as a community," Mayor Fischer said, in a statement. "JUUL's goal has been to turn our kids into nicotine addicts, and, in terms of the company's focus, long-term paying customers. This has serious medical and economic repercussions for our community."
The lawsuit accuses JUUL of violating the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations ("RICO") Act, being a public nuisance, negligence, gross negligence, a failure to warn the public of strict product liability, selling a product with a design defect and unjust enrichment. It requests punitive damages.
It also accuses the company of working together with advertising agencies and others using "Big Tobacco's playbook" to market a dangerous product to young people. The lawsuit says JUUL "sought to portray its products as trend-setting and used by those that teenagers admire."
"JUUL delivers levels of nicotine cranked up much higher than traditional cigarettes, and they've targeted their product to impressionable kids," said O'Connell, in a statement. "This has been a surgical strike against our young, addicting a new generation to nicotine for life. The damage is done, and JUUL must be held accountable for their actions."
A JUUL spokesperson filed the following statement in response to the city of Louisville's lawsuit:
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