Vaping was marketed as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. Now, consumers are learning otherwise—and they’re suing e-cigarette manufacturers like Juul.
But if you or a loved one are considering a vaping lawsuit, you may be asking yourself whether you ought to file alone or join a Juul class action lawsuit. You’re pretty sure you have a case, but you’re not sure which option is more likely to succeed.
Before you file a claim or sign anything, we’re here to help. Keep reading for everything you need to know about private vs. class action lawsuits.
A private civil lawsuit is a court-based process allowing Person A to seek to hold Person B liable for some wrongful act committed by Person B against Person A. This can be the result of a contract dispute, negligence, injuries sustained in an accident, or countless other harms.
If Person A succeeds, they are awarded compensation for the harm Person B inflicted upon them. The goal is not to punish Person B for a crime, but rather to acknowledge the harm that was done to Person A and to compensate Person A for that harm.
Let’s say, for example, you decide to bring a private personal injury lawsuit against an e-cigarette manufacturer.
In this example, you are Person A, the one who has been harmed and is bringing the lawsuit claim. You’re the only one bringing such a claim against Person B, which means that you’re the only plaintiff and Person B, the e-cigarette manufacturer, is the only defendant.
When you speak with an attorney and file your claim, the attorney investigates the validity of your claim and gathers evidence pertaining to it, such as your medical history and medical treatment. Based on that evidence, the attorney will advise you whether or not you have a case.
If you do have a case, the attorney will file a lawsuit on your behalf. Many claims are settled before a lawsuit is ever filed, and if a lawyer believes a case can be settled outside of court, they will make a demand to the other side’s attorney or insurance company. It’s important to have an attorney who understands how to navigate this process—we take a Pure Law approach to develop a successful strategy.
If the case is not settled and a lawsuit is filed, the clock starts on when your case goes to trial, which means both sides will commence discovery and mediation discussions.
The majority of lawsuits are private, which means that more people are familiar with this type of lawsuit.
In this type of lawsuit, you are representing your own case regarding your own injuries, not someone else’s. The case pertains to you and the harm inflicted on you. When you hire an attorney, they’re only present to represent you, regardless of whether or not other people are filing lawsuits against the same person or organization for the same reason. This is where class action and private lawsuits diverge.
What is a Class Action Lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit is a legal action filed by a group of individuals against a defendant. It gets its name from the plaintiffs, which is what makes the lawsuit unique.
Unlike many other legal cases, a class action lawsuit allows a class of plaintiffs to sue a defendant based on common harms inflicted on all of the plaintiffs. A class action lawsuit against Juul, for example, might focus on vaping-related illnesses resulting from unsafe products and deceptive advertising.
Because class action lawsuits have more than one plaintiff, the case proceeds differently than a private lawsuit.
In a class action lawsuit, a group of plaintiffs is represented by one or more lead plaintiffs whose injuries are similar to the rest of the plaintiffs to make them a suitable representative. After a lawsuit is filed, the lead plaintiff, through the attorneys, must demonstrate three things to a judge in order to get the class certified:
If a class becomes certified by the court, all involved plaintiffs are notified by mail. At this point, they are all included unless and until they choose to opt out. Each plaintiff who does not opt out receives a portion of the overall settlement.
The settlements tend to be large because of the potential number of plaintiffs. However, the reward is typically small for that same reason. The reward is typically small for that same reason.
Class action lawsuits are used when damages claimed by an individual plaintiff are too small for individual lawsuits to be worthwhile, but there are several other potential plaintiffs making the same claim against the same defendant.
In order to pool resources and bolster the viability of their individual claims, plaintiffs can file a lawsuit as a group, allowing them the resources to hire an attorney and receive compensation for harms inflicted on them.
This brings us back to our original question: should you join a Juul class action lawsuit?
If you’ve been injured while vaping, you need to get your own attorney and not wait for class action. Your claim may be large enough to sustain its own lawsuit, and you don’t want to run out on the statute of limitations while waiting for the class action lawsuit, nor do you want to join a lawsuit if the lead plaintiff doesn’t have your best interests at heart or does not adequately represent you or your injuries.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or illnesses due to vaping and need to speak with an attorney about your options, click here to schedule your free consultation.