A proposed class action lawsuit was filed last Tuesday against ITG Brands LLC, Fontem US Inc., LOEC INC and Reynolds American Inc. These companies are responsible for the manufacture, distribution and sale of Blu Electronic Cigarettes.
Plaintiff Michael J. Whitney has brought a proposed class action lawsuit against the e-cigarette brand for allegedly exposing consumers to significant amounts of formaldehyde, a substance known to cause cancer. Whitney claims that the companies did not warn consumers about this risk and did not disclose the formaldehyde in the product packaging.
In the state of California, Prop 65 requires companies to warn consumers regarding any exposure to harmful chemicals. Whitney alleges in the class action lawsuit that the makers of the Blu e-cigs have violated this and other applicable laws.
Blu brand electronic cigarettes and other e-cigarettes are marketed implicitly and sometimes more directly as being a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. Currently, according to the court documents, e-cigarettes are not highly regulated like tobacco cigarettes but there are toxic chemicals in the aerosol that users inhale, including formaldehyde. Independent testing verified the presence of formaldehyde specifically in the Blu products.
Whitney alleges the company misrepresents their products in their packaging by both the information they include and omit in a way that would deceive a reasonable consumer. The Blu packages and advertisements proclaim:
• “No Tobacco Smoke, Only Vapor”
• “With no ash, no odor, and an unmistakably rich taste, Blu is everything you enjoy about smoking without the things you hate.”
• “Blu produces no smoke and no ask, only vapor, making it the smarter alternative to regular cigarettes.”
• “Blu is the smart choice for smokers wanting a change.”
On behalf of himself and the proposed Class, Whitney brings forth three counts against the defendants. He alleges that the companies violated California’s Unfair Competition Law, based on deceptive practices for one count and based on unfair acts and practices for the second count, as well as violation of the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act.
According to the Blu e-cig class action lawsuit, Whitney believes that the companies knew that the Blu electronic cigarettes contained dangerous, carcinogenic chemicals or showed reckless behavior in not knowing the content of their product. He has requested certification of a proposed Class of individuals who have purchased Blu e-cigs from September 2011 to the present. While the exact number of potential Class Members is not known, it is estimated to be in the thousands.
The remedies sought by Whitney include requiring the defendant to be financially responsible for notifying Class Members of the class action lawsuit, restitution, restitutionary disgorgement for the members of the Class, requiring Defendants to place accurate warnings on their packaging, injunctive relief, statutory and punitive damages as well as awarding the plaintiff for the cost of the lawsuit.
Whitney is represented by Mark N. Todzo and Abigail Blodgett of Lexington Law Group, and Christopher M. Burke of Scott & Scott LLP.
The Blu E-Cigarettes Formaldehyde Class Action Lawsuit is Whitney v. ITG Brands LLC, et al., Case No. 3:15-cv-04003, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division.
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