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Florida CBD Company Accused in Lawsuit of Causing Woman’s Vaping Illness

After four days of vaping a mango-flavored CBD product from a South Florida company, Erin Gilbert says she was rushed to a hospital in the U.S. Virgin Islands with shortness of breath, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.

Gilbert was initially diagnosed with pneumonia, but her condition quickly worsened. Doctors placed her on a ventilator before airlifting her to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where both of her legs were amputated.

Doctors at Jackson have attributed her deteriorating condition to vaping after ruling out any bacterial, viral, or fungal infections, according to a lawsuit Gilbert and her husband filed last week in Broward County Circuit Court against Just CBD, a Hollywood company that sells everything from patchouli hemp soap to CBD gummies. (The lawsuit was first reported by Courthouse News Service.)

Just CBD, which bills itself as “the future of CBD,” also sells CBD vape juice in eight different flavors. Gilbert vaped the company’s Tropical Mango flavor on August 15 after purchasing it from a shop in St. Croix, according to the lawsuit.

Never having used CBD before, Gilbert says she vaped from the cartridge daily before she was rushed to Juan F. Luis Memorial Hospital and Medical Center in St. Croix on August 19. She arrived in Miami on August 22 “in a paralyzed state with acute respiratory distress and multiorgan failure, including acute kidney injury, acute liver injury and lactic acidosis,” the lawsuit states.

She was placed on life support and the following day underwent surgery to treat blood clotting in her legs, but doctors were unable to save her legs from amputation. She was eventually weaned off life support but now breathes through a tracheal tube. She remains in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Gilbert is one of almost 2,000 people who have fallen sick after inhaling some type of vape product, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which updates its site every Thursday. Thirty-seven people have died in the outbreak that has reached all states except Alaska.

Most of the cases have been attributed to black-market THC vapes, which are mostly mixed with products shipped from China with no regulation or oversight. As of now, no specific ingredient has been listed as the cause of the vaping illness, although there has been a link to the Vitamin E oil used by some companies in their products. Many of the black-market brands also order packaging from China that allows them to either duplicate existing legal brands or create their own brands with slick packaging.

Just CBD is part of a larger conglomerate of corporate entities that fall under a Coral Springs-based parent company called SSGI Financial Services, Inc. Reached by phone, a spokesperson at the company told New Times it would provide a statement about Gilbert’s lawsuit but did not follow up. But the company did send a statement to Courthouse News, saying it did not distribute its products to retail stores in the U.S. Virgin Islands, meaning the product Gilbert vaped might have been counterfeit.

A Go Fund Me page set up to raise money for Gilbert’s medical expenses has raised $7,000 so far.

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