*This clip is from a previously recorded episode of America’s Lawyer*

Via America’s Lawyer: The FDA investigates reports of seizures possibly linked to e-cigarette use, mainly in teens and young adults. Scott Hardy from Top Class Actions joins Mike Papantonio to discuss more. Also, Mike Papantonio is joined by legal journalist Mollye Barrows to discuss the gruesome reality of modern-day slavery and sex trafficking, which targets millions of women and children worldwide each year.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             Juul e-cigarettes have now been linked to at least 35 seizures in users over the past eight years and investigators suspect that those numbers are going to grow as the investigation continues. Joining me to talk about this is Scott Hardy, he’s the president of Top Class Actions. Scott, I saw, you saw the early edge of this. I remember you did a story on this almost when it first began trying to warn consumers. Tell us what investigators have found out about the Juul e-cigarettes. It’s a pretty ugly story.

Scott Hardy:                          It really is, Mike. I mean what we found with the Juul e-cigarettes is that they really came on the market and just exploded. It wasn’t just a, you know, a small little group and people thought, Juul cigarettes, come on, we’re really going to see big tobacco behind this. No, Juul came out with a special formulation which they patented and has just grown astronomically. The big difference between Juul and a lot of the other e-cigarette manufacturers during that same time period is that they are based on nicotine salts and so each of these little Juul cartridges that you plug in to your Juul e-cigarette has the same kind of feel and the same nicotine hit that cigarettes do because nicotine salts are to give you that same kind of hit just like cigarettes do.

And so they’ve actually grown astronomically. We’ve seen a $15 billion valuation for Juul last, at right about at the end of last year and sales spiked 641% between 2016 to 2017 because Juul hit this market hard of giving people a very similar nicotine hit as to using a cigarette and of course coming out with lots of yummy flavors that adults and kids really love.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, Scott, you know your, I love your reporting. Top Class Action honestly is the best site to get these stories. We go to Top Class Action before we do these stories many times. The FDA is still unsure of whether these seizures were caused by the e-cigarettes, which is so typical of the FDA, isn’t it? I mean FDA, it’s almost like they’re the last person to ever know that there’s a product on the market that’s killing people.

We saw the same thing all the way, as you know, our law firm handled, we handled the tobacco litigation years ago and we got very little help from organizations like the FDA. But we do know that users typically get much higher doses of nicotine and that’s, that’s before we even analyze what are the, what all the other component parts, what are the other chemicals in there that’s causing people to have seizures. The FDA hasn’t even looked at that. It is a little troubling isn’t it Scott?

Scott Hardy:                          It’s very troubling and for the FDA to come out here on April 3rd and say yes, we, we’ve got reports of 30 plus seizures happening and yes, this a bad thing and that we’ve seen an increase in seizures that is, it’s a market increase in seizures that have all been directly connected to e-cigarette use. And so what really makes Juul come into play is the high doses of the e-juice that they give you and the nicotine that they give you. Because each pod, each tiny little Juul pod that you connect to your e-cigarette has as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes and in these Juul pods, it’s a mix of glycerol, propylene glycol, nicotine, benzoic acid, and of course the flavor we’ve talked about. And so that nicotine content is 0.7 milliliters per pod, which is approximately equal to one pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs. And so with one little pod you’re sucking down an entire pack of cigarettes.

Mike Papantonio:             Scott, let me tell you where we won’t get us information. We won’t get this information from corporate media. I think we won’t get this information from corporate media. We get it, your, your site is called Top Class Action. You send out newsletters, you tell these stories all the time and the way you find this information as you really have to dig, you have to, you have to, you have to dig and find out where are these reports, what company do they have to do with? Then you report that information. But the important thing is you report that information. I’m wondering, have there been reports of this happening with other e-cigarettes or other vaping devices or have the complaints so far just been in regard to the Juul devices?

Scott Hardy:                          So the complaints that we’ve seen so far specifically from the FDA are from, are from e-cigarettes as a whole. The FDA didn’t actually identify whether it was Juul cigarettes, e-cigarettes or whether it’s other manufacturers. But Juul can actually has 70 plus percent of the e-cigarette market. And you know, you would think that big tobacco would be making a big play here and of course they are, but they’ve been slowly rolling out into it and Juul just came into the market and, and really blew things up. And so now we’re seeing this use just drive up dramatically from middle school on through high school because kids think that it’s vape. They’ve got this message, this tastes like, it tastes like fruit punch. You know, this is, this is just steam. This isn’t bad for you when in fact they’re getting these kids addicted.

Mike Papantonio:             Fun, tasty, addictive poison is what they have. Scott Hardy, thank you for joining me and thank you for your site, Top Class Action. It literally is one of the best sources of information like this out there. Thanks for joining me.

Mike Papantonio:             The reports are coming almost daily. Headlines showing how human trafficking is impacting people across the planet. In the United States, immigrants seeking, they’re looking for a better life. That’s really all they want. But it includes women and children and in the end they’re coerced and they’re sold into sex slavery. The most vulnerable around the world are being victimized.

Legal journalist Mollye Barrows is here with more to talk about this issue. Mollye, you know, we hear about human trafficking, we see movies like Taken and we think we understand everything about it where most people are so far off on understanding how bad this is. How widespread is this problem? This is a new industry, isn’t it?

Mollye Barrows:                It is global and it certainly to a great extent, it’s not new in the history of the world as far as governments and, you know, those that are in organized crime, taking advantage of people who are vulnerable. In these, this, these times you’re talking about populations that are, whether they’re migrants coming from North Africa, whether they’re women and children in North Korea, even migrants seeking a better life coming into this country.

They’re all being taken advantage of and it’s women and children that are predominantly the victims. And basically the way it works is, for instance, migrants trying to come into the United States will pay thousands of dollars to a smuggler. Sometimes their families sell everything they have and maybe the cost is $40,000.

So they sell everything they had to give them $10,000 with the idea that the person, once they get there, we’ll be able to contribute to this. And then once they’re there, they have no resources, no friends and family. They’re essentially isolated, don’t even speak the language. And then the smugglers take advantage and recoup their costs through sex slavery and forced labor.

Mike Papantonio:             Here’s what we’re seeing. As you know, we’re handling the, we’re handling some of the biggest human trafficking cases in the country. What we’re seeing is these companies being set up, and the company is set up to say, do you want to learn a job in the service industry? Might take place in the Ukraine. So these young women come in. Yeah, I would love to learn the service industry. They come to United States. So maybe they worked for a restaurant for the first week. The second week, the people who are bringing them in on H, H2B, H2A kind of visas.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             That what they do is they say, well, you know, you’re probably not making enough money. Why don’t you dance at this strip club tonight and you’ll make some more money? And then that moves, why don’t you work at this massage parlor? And oh, by the way, you’re really attractive. Why don’t you become an es, an escort? So there’s all, but what’s the interesting thing is these companies are set up to do that and that you, they sell education. You can be better educated.

We can teach you how to be a member, how to work your way up through the industry, service industry. How would you like to be an AU pair? Why you want to be an AU pair? So they get to the United States under these special visas that the government provides. And then the government does nothing, nothing at all to follow up on whether or not this type of thing is taking place. It really is slavery in plain, in plain sight. That’s what it is. It’s slavery in plain sight.

Mollye Barrows:                And you’re exactly right and it’s happening in country after country. Over in North Korea, two and a half million victims, mostly women and children that are being sold into sex slavery into, in China. And in North Africa they’re leaving places like Libya and other countries to escape poverty and war torn countries. And again, they’re relying on these smugglers who are basically just organized criminals in disguise that are taking advantage of these and they’re exploiting them.

And they’re selling them and they’re selling them into forced labor. But most of the time it is children who are the biggest number of victims out of Africa alone. And then when you hear about it with everything, them being kidnapped and used in, in these wars, taught how to shoot guns. But for the most part, it’s these young girls that are being used in traffic and it is men who are the consumers.

It is men worldwide who are the customers. And it is, it is really just amazing that we have found through your firm the way to go after these people litigation wise, legally, to be able to expose how they’re profiting off this human tragedy.

Mike Papantonio:             Here’s, here’s what we’re seeing. It’s about a $50 billion a year business. The reason it’s such a big business is this is a reusable commodity. Okay? If you sell cocaine, you can only sell it one time.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             But if you sell people, one case that we’re seeing is where truck stops all along, all through out the United States, they’re moving girls. The, a lot of Sudanese, a lot of Mexican, young ladies being moved, being moved from truck stop to truck stop all over the country. We’re seeing it in casinos, in places like Vegas where up on the 10th floor. 

They’ll have a, an entire floor devoted towards keeping these women there for the high rollers. So this is slavery in plain sight and what we better be doing is we better if we, if we’re going to bring in somebody on a, on a H2B visa, there’s some responsibility to follow up and say, what happened to that person three weeks later?

Mollye Barrows:                Can the government be also put in the crosshairs?

Mike Papantonio:             No, they can’t. Unfortunately, they’ve got immunity. But all these corporations that are participating, that’s who we’re going after. Thanks for joining me, Mollye.

Mollye Barrows:                Thanks Pap.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.