Daniel Wakefield, an 18-year-old vaper has died due to breathing complications and now, his mother is blaming Juul for his untimely death. “Juul was the only change in this boy’s otherwise healthy life,” according to a family attorney.
Daniel was neither wheezing nor did he show any sort of other signs indicating that it was hard for him to breathe, says his mother.
Daniel was spending the night at his father’s house and she spoke with him on the phone in the evening around 7:00 PM. He also texted her before going to sleep, but his father found him dead on the couch around 4:00 PM while getting up to drink some water.
Daniel’s family is understandably distraught and the burning question on their minds at the moment is how an otherwise healthy kid could die suddenly. While Wakefield had asthma, it wasn’t something that troubled him since he was a young child. He had been active until he was found dead.
The family is attributing Daniel’s death to the Juul that was inseparable since he was 15 years old.
An attorney with Levin Simes Abrams, Angela Nehmens said, “Juul was the only change in this boy’s otherwise healthy life.” This is what led them to file a federal lawsuit on behalf of the teen’s mother Lisa Vail on Tuesday.
This is the first time that a wrongful death lawsuit been filed over vaping. The lawsuit, that also blames Sans Francisco based Juul of deceiving marketing campaigns that advertise its product to be safe, comes as vape manufacturers face an allegation that because of their flavored products are aimed at hooking up kids to nicotine and that led to a mysterious lung illness. The mysterious disease has affected thousands of vapers across different states in the U.S.
While there have been 26 deaths reported by Public Health Officials since August because of this illness which has been related to vaping. The CDCP (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has mentioned many of those who have become ill because of vaping THC based products but according to the government agency, it is recommended that no one should vape any type of e-liquid until the cause has been determined.
On 31st August 2018, Wakefield died and unlike more recent deaths he did not look ill before his death. A medical examiner blamed the natural cause for his death, further pointing out that the teen had asthma.
He was an active teenager who loved skateboarding and riding bikes like BMX as asthma had never troubled him since he was very young said attorneys for his family. By the time he was 15 years old, Daniel started using Juul products and quickly became addicted.
At the age of 16, Wakefield was hospitalized because of lung and breathing complications he was going through. He was so much addicted to Juul vaporizer that at the point when the hospital staff applied nicotine patches while he was admitted to prevent withdrawal, said the complaint.
Mahzad Hite, another attorney representing Wakefield’s family said, issues of withdrawal are pretty common in young Juul users. According to her, they have come across teens that experience mood swings, lack of focus, and even behavioral issues. In fact, in one of the cases, the teen threatened to commit suicide.
She said, “They have stronger withdrawal symptoms [than adults]. Their brain can’t handle it.”
The complaint said that in one of the instances, Wakefield became so upset for not getting access to his Juul that he eventually threw a mini-refrigerator down from the top of his home’s floor.
Nehmens said that now his parents feel blameworthy because they couldn’t do more for him to stop his vaping habit. But she added, they might have done more only if they were aware of the risks at that time as the lack of knowledge caused because of Juul marketing strategies towards its products as a safe alternative to cigarettes.
In July this year, a representative of Juul told to a member of Congress that Juul is “totally safe”. That’s what prompted a rebuke from the Food and Drug Administration that said that the company has not proven yet that its products are safer than cigarettes and as they are accused of illegal marketing campaigns.
At times, Wakefield’s mother raised concerns about his vaping and he exclusively vaped only Juul products but the teen told her that he has been reading about safety that Juul provides and he didn’t believe that there was anything addictive about their products, the suit alleges.
Nehmens said that this safety information seemed honest to his parents as they never saw him coughing or creating any symptoms like any frequent cigarette smoking person shows.
Just before hours of his death, there were no difficulties in breathing or wheezing. The coming year before the illness related to vaping made headlines in the national media, the attorney of his family isn’t sure whether the examiner doing his medical fully considered how Juul could have affected his death.
Hite said, “Now I think doctors are finally starting to ask that question, but I really don’t think it was known until recently there were all these problems with vaping.”
Nehmens says that the long term effect on the human body because of Juul products is still unknown. The company has been often glossed over the nicotine contents of its products till the year 2017 and the exact contents in the Juul pods haven’t been disclosed by the company.
Nehmens asked about the chemicals that could have been lurking in its ingredients and what could be the effects of inhaling these products over the years. She said, “I think they’ve really used the public as their guinea pigs while profiting off it at the same time.”
What do you think about recent deaths due to vaping related illness? Is it really products like Juul that contribute to deaths or it is something else present in the e-liquids that are causing the deaths across the country? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.