A former top executive of Juul is alleging that the e-cigarette giant sold at least one million contaminated mint-flavored nicotine pods — and refused to recall them when told about the problem.
In a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on Tuesday, Siddharth Breja, who was senior vice president for global finance, claims he was fired on March 21 in retaliation for whistle-blowing and objecting to the shipment of the contaminated and expired pods and other illegal and unsafe conduct that “has jeopardized and continues to jeopardize public health and safety and the lives of millions of consumers, many of them children and teens.”
Mr. Breja detailed a culture of indifference to safety and quality-control issues among top executives at the company and quoted the then-chief executive Kevin Burns saying at a meeting in February: “Half our customers are drunk and vaping ” and wouldn’t “notice the quality of our pods.”
Ted Kwong, a Juul spokesman, dismissed Mr. Breja’s claims as baseless.
“He was terminated in March 2019 because he failed to demonstrate the leadership qualities needed in his role,” Mr. Kwong said. “The allegations concerning safety issues with Juul products are equally meritless, and we already investigated the underlying manufacturing issue and determined the product met all applicable specifications.”