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Gurnee Teen Sues Juul, Gas Stop For Vaping Lung Damage

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A suburban 18-year-old recently hospitalized because of vaping is suing the makers of an e-cigarette he used as well as the place where he got it from.

In a complaint filed on Friday in Lake County Circuit Court, the civil suit names Juul Labs Inc., as well MFD Mobile, also known as The Gas Stop in Waukegan, for allegedly illegally selling nicotine-based products to Adam Hergenreder of Gurnee.

Adam Hergenreder Gurnee Vaping Victim
(Credit: CBS)

According to the lawsuit, Mergenreder had been vaping for about a year and a half but was recently hospitalized for severe lung damage.

"JUUL has turned a generation of adolescents into addicts and recklessly put the health and safety of young men and women like Adam in jeopardy, inflicting illnesses upon them that medical personnel and public health authorities have yet to understand the causes of or the long-term impacts of," said attorney Antonio Romanucci.

Officials in Illinois confirmed in August a man died from a vaping-related illness. Last week an Indiana resident died as a result of an illness related to vaping. Nationwide, more than 450 people are known to be suffering from illnesses connected to using e-cigarettes.

Hergenreder, from Gurnee, is part of that statistic.

"When I first got here, it was like a baby bear was on my chest," Hergenreder said.

RELATED: Vaping 'Outbreak' Concerns Health Officials

The different vaping devices, products, types of oils, and additives make isolating a cause complex. But as more get sick, the hope is doctors can learn from their illness.

Doctor Jennifer Layden is with the Illinois Department of Public Health.

"Right now, we haven't seen one common product or one common device that's consistent across all the cases," Layden said. "Anytime we get those products or devices, we are sending them to the FDA so they can run extensive testing."

CBS 2 reached out to Juul for comment. The company released this statement:

JUUL Labs is committed to eliminating combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in the world. Our product has always only been intended to be a viable alternative for the one billion current adult smokers in the world. We have never marketed to youth and do not want any non-nicotine users to try our products. We have launched an aggressive action plan to combat underage use as it is antithetical to our mission.  

We strongly advocate for Tobacco 21 legislation, we stopped the sale of non-tobacco and non-menthol based flavored JUULpods to ourtraditional retail store partners, enhanced our online age-verification process, strengthened our retailer compliance program with over 2,000 secret shopper visits per month, and shut down our Facebook and Instagram accounts while working constantly to remove inappropriate social media content generated by others on those platforms. Most recently, we announced the deployment of technology at retail stores that automatically restricts the sale of JUUL products until a government-issued ID is electronically scanned to verify age and ID validity. This technology also limits the amount of JUUL products that can be purchased to prevent reselling or sharing to those underage, and it will soon be mandatory for all JUUL product sales across the country.

It was our hope that others in the category would self-impose similar restrictions to address youth usage, and it is now our hope that regulators will impose these same restrictions to protect youth and to preserve the opportunity to eliminate combustible cigarettes, the deadliest legal consumer product known to man. We also must ensure illegal counterfeit and copycat products which may be made with unknown ingredients and under unknown standards and those that deliver controlled substances, stay out of the market.

No one answered the phone at the gas station.


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