Vaper, 18, suing e-cigarette maker Juul after docs say he has lungs of a 70-year-old: reports

An Illinois student-athlete is suing the e-cigarette company Juul after doctors said he now has lungs similar to those of a 70-year-old man.

Adam Hergenreder, of Gurnee, who used e-cigarettes for more than a year and a half, claims he was a victim of deceptive marketing by the San Francisco company, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in Lake County Circuit Court.

"To put it mildly, Adam didn't stand a chance to avoid getting hooked on these toxic timebombs," Hergenreder's lawyer, Antonio Romanucci, told Chicago’s FOX 32.

"To put it mildly, Adam didn't stand a chance to avoid getting hooked on these toxic timebombs."

— Antonio Romanucci, lawyer representing Illinois man suing Juul

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Hergenreder received the bad diagnosis about his lungs after he was hospitalized late last month for nausea and breathing trouble, the station reported.

“It was scary to think about that — that little device did that to my lungs,” Hergenreder told Chicago’s WGN-TV, recalling the diagnosis.

The student wrestler told the station he used both nicotine and THC products when he vaped – and now it’s unclear whether his lungs will ever fully recover.

Adam Hergenreder, right, and his mother Polly, attend a news conference where their attorney announced the filing of a civil lawsuit against e-cigarette maker Juul on Hergenreder's behalf Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, in Chicago. (Associated Press)

Adam Hergenreder, right, and his mother Polly, attend a news conference where their attorney announced the filing of a civil lawsuit against e-cigarette maker Juul on Hergenreder's behalf Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, in Chicago. (Associated Press)

“I was a varsity wrestler before this,” he said, “and I might not ever be able to wrestle because that’s a very physical sport and my lungs might not be able to hold that exertion. … It’s sad.”

“I was a varsity wrestler before this, and I might not ever be able to wrestle because that’s a very physical sport and my lungs might not be able to hold that exertion. … It’s sad.”

— Adam Hergenreder, 18, plaintiff in lawsuit against Juul

Hergenreder is among hundreds of vapers across the U.S. who have contracted lung illnesses from e-cigarettes.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 380 cases had been reported across 36 states, correcting from a previously reported number of 450.

“The previous case count was higher because it reported possible cases that were under investigation by states. The current number includes only confirmed and probable cases reported by states to CDC after classification,” the CDC said in its update.

There have been six vaping-related deaths to date, in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota and Oregon.

Doctors say the lung illnesses resemble an inhalation injury, with the body apparently reacting to a caustic substance being breathed in. Symptoms have included shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.

But the CDC has not yet found a specific cause of the illnesses, and no single product or ingredient has been identified.

On Wednesday, President Trump said his administration was considering a ban on non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products, citing nationwide concerns about adverse effects.

Trump referenced those concerns again Friday in a Twitter message.

“While I like the Vaping alternative to Cigarettes,” the president wrote, “we need to make sure this alternative is SAFE for ALL! Let’s get counterfeits off the market, and keep young children from Vaping!

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In addition to Juul, Hergenreder’s lawsuit names as a defendant the Waukegan, Ill., gas station where he claims he regularly purchased nicotine-based Juul products when he was underage, FOX 32 reported.

In late August, Juul CEO Kevin Burns called vaping-related illnesses “worrisome,” but said he had no plans to pull the company’s products from the market.

The company’s stock price has tanked since the Trump administration announced plans for the partial ban, the New York Post reported.

Fox News’ Madeline Farber contributed to this report.