The ongoing drama involving popular vape company Juul escalated on Tuesday after a former executive filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging Juul shipped out one million contaminated pods and didn’t bother to recall them.
Buzzfeed News reports that Siddharth Breja, Juul’s former senior vice president of global finance, alleges he was fired after raising alarm about the pods on several occasions. The first involved pods which were reportedly resold to consumers in February 2019. Breja says the pods were over a year old at that point, and of a lower—and perhaps less safe—quality. But when pointed that out to the upper brass, and suggested the company at least warn consumers that the pods might be expired, he says, he was rebuffed.
Per Buzzfeed News:
The lawsuit claims that then-CEO Kevin Burns shot down that idea, saying, “Half our customers are drunk and vaping like mo-fos, who the fuck is going to notice the quality of our pods.”
The second time Breja raised alarm, he says, was in March 2019, when he became aware that 250,000 mint refill kits had been made with contaminated e-liquid and sent out to consumers. Breja says he protested the company’s refusal to recall the kits, which made up the equivalent of one million pods, or to “at a minimum issue a public health and safety notice to consumers,” as the suit puts it. He was then fired, according to the suit, and though Juul claimed they let him go over something resume-related, Breja argues in the suit that he was terminated for speaking out.
Burns quit in September, as news of potentially vape-related lung illnesses and deaths began to spread. Though the illnesses have not officially been traced back to Juul—and, in fact, some research traces the illnesses back to black market THC products and not nicotine vapes—health officials are still looking for a link.