Legal Roundup: Ex-Twitter Executives Sue Company, Chipotle Versus Sweetgreen and More

The latest legal cases that are likely to have an impact on the insurance and risk management industry. 
By: | May 2, 2023

Wrongful Death in Pennsylvania Chocolate Company Explosion

The Case: The first wrongful death suit has been filed after a deadly blast at a chocolate factory left seven dead and several more injured. The family of Judith Lopez-Moran, a 55-year-old mother of three, filed the case against R.M. Palmer of West Reading, Pennsylvania, in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, also naming gas utility UGI. Plaintiffs wrote that the explosion “was foreseeable, predictable and preventable.” The blast leveled one building and damaged others, according to the Associated Press.

Scorecard: The case has recently been filed and has not reached a resolution.

Takeaway: Authorities are still investigating the cause of the explosion. Workers said they reported a gas odor on the day of the tragedy, but R.M. Palmer did nothing, according to The Reading Eagle. The attorneys representing Lopez-Moran’s family are also taking the cases of more than a dozen other victims of the blast.

JUUL Agrees to Pay $7.9 Million to Settle Suit in West Virginia

The Case: West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey brought suit against JUUL, accusing the electronic cigarette maker of violating the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act and creating a public health crisis. “The lawsuit claimed JUUL’s products were designed to entice young people to start vaping and get addicted to nicotine,” according to the Associated Press.

Scorecard: JUUL has agreed to pay $7.9 million to settle the lawsuit.

Takeaway: Payout will occur over six years, beginning in May 2023. Morrisey said the settlement will “help fund desperately needed substance abuse treatment and prevention programs, as well as support important public health initiatives,” according to the AP. JUUL has not admitted to any wrongdoing in the settlement. JUUL also noted that West Virginia has “the highest cigarette-smoking rate in the U.S.,” according to the AP. The settlement comes amid a wave of legal challenges faced by JUUL, which has been accused of contributing to the increase in teenage vaping.

Ex-Twitter Execs Sue for $1 Million in Unpaid Fees

The Case: Three former executives who were fired after Elon Musk took over are suing Twitter in the Delaware Court of Chancery “seeking reimbursement for more than $1 million in legal expenses tied to a shareholder lawsuit and inquiries including from federal authorities,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Parag Agrawal is Twitter’s former chief executive. Vijaya Gadde was the company’s former chief legal officer and Ned Segal was former chief financial officer. In the complaint, the three said Twitter is still obligated to cover legal expenses related to their former positions.

Scorecard: The case has recently been filed and has not reached a resolution.

Takeaway: The executives said they tried twice to get outstanding bills paid, in January and March 2023. “The suit represents another example of Twitter being accused of overdue payments since Mr. Musk took control of the company and moved quickly to slash costs,” according to the WSJ.

Chipotle Drops Two-Day-Old Trademark Infringement vs. Sweetgreen

The Case: Chipotle, the Mexican fast-food chain, accused Sweetgreen of trademark infringement in Southern California district court, saying Sweetgreen’s Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl “used capital letters for chipotle, mimicking Chipotle’s logo and confusing customers,” reported the Wall Street Journal. “According to the complaint, Chipotle sent a letter to Sweetgreen before filing the lawsuit with suggestions for new, ‘more appropriate’ names, including ‘chicken bowl with chipotle.’

Scorecard: Chipotle’s case against Sweetgreen lasted only two days before it was dropped.

Takeaway: Sweetgreen has “agreed to rename its new menu item the Chicken + Chipotle Pepper Bowl instead of Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl,” according to the WSJ. The new menu item had been launched just a week before the legal kerfuffle. &

Jared Shelly is a journalist based in Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected].