Lawsuit alleges vape companies targeting kids, causing respiratory illnesses

CHICAGO — As the popularity of vaping has increased, so too has the number of disturbing reports of vaping-related respiratory illnesses.

Now a Chicago law firm is filing a class-action lawsuit alleging companies are targeting teens, in addition to causing illness, respiratory problems, even inducing seizures in some users.

Dawson Grissom always had a natural ability to run. Blessed with strong lungs and strong legs, he said he's been a runner since fifth grade.

Mom Somer Dunavan said he ran track, cross country, and even a marathon in 2018. But then she noticed the physically-fit 20-year-old started to change.

Dawson Grissom

“We noticed behavior changes in him, he was angry, he was lashing out and we finally figured out he was vaping,” Dunavan said.

“Everyone was doing it," Grissom said. “It just goes down easy on your throat – and flavor also.”

Last month, he walked out of the house ready to go to work, and was on the way to his car when he suddenly found himself on the ground.

“Felt the weird thing in my head, just went down,” Grissom said. “I was kind of like frozen."

“He was completely stiff, I had no clue what was going on, he wasn’t talking,” Dunavan said.

Later, while at the hospital, Grissom had a seizure. Now he's convinced it was connected to vaping.

“There’s really no other explanation, because I’ve been healthy my whole life until I started doing that my senior year," Grissom said.

Now attorney Ken Moll is bringing a class-action lawsuit against vaping companies.

“This is a story we’re getting time and time again,” Moll said. “The class action is seeking to prevent the makers of the e-cigarettes from targeting children.”

Now 20, Anastasia Quercia said she started vaping when she was a 16-year-old high school student.

Anastasia Quercia

“Everyone else was doing it, they had it in school, in the bathroom, and I was like, 'I want to be a cool kid,'” Quercia said.

She said companies like Juul targeted teens with fruity flavors and bold colors. She says developed an addiction, and developed health problems.

“I have mood swings, insomnia, anger level – like when I don’t have my vape, I’ll flip the house upside down,” Quercia said.

For Dawson Grissom’s mother, the lawsuit is really about a solving a public health problem.

“How many more kids need to get sick or die? It’s not just seizures, it’s not just addictions, there’s kids getting lung problems and they’re dying, and we need to figure out why and stop it,” Dunavan said.

In a written statement, Juul says it’s working to stop underage users:

“Through shared effort, we can significantly reduce youth access to, and use of, all vapor products, including JUUL products, while at the same time ensuring that adult smokers maintain access to a product that is helping millions of them switch from combustible cigarettes — a goal we all share.”

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