By: Enrique Serna
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Tribes’ Claims Move Forward In Juul Vape MDL Despite Defendants’ Latest Efforts to Dismiss
As reported by Law360 (subscription), on January 28, 2022, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick of the Northern District of California issued an order denying the bulk of the latest wave of defendant motions to dismiss two tribes’ bellwether suits in multidistrict injury and fraudulent advertising litigation against e-cigarette manufacturer Juul and its part-owner Altria. The lawsuits include allegations that JUUL and Altria deliberately targeted vulnerable native populations and that the tribes’ claims are similar to those put forward by school districts and others that have been allowed to proceed.
Juul, Altria, and several executives had argued that the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians’ hadn’t shown injury or causation to support Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act claims and that their suits should be trimmed or thrown out altogether.
Judge Orrick on Friday rejected the preponderance of the defendants’ motions, pointing to his own earlier rulings in the MDL and noting that “the vast majority of the factual allegations regarding defendants’ conduct” in both tribes’ complaints “are materially identical to the factual allegations alleged and found to be largely sufficient to state RICO, negligence, public nuisance, and other state law claims in the government entity complaints tested at the motion to dismiss stage.” He also allowed the tribes to amend their complaints in order to add more detail for their RICO claims.
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