School Districts Suing JUUL
Beasley Allen is a leader in litigation against JUUL. Recognizing the critical threat to young people ensnared by nicotine addiction, and its effect on our nation’s educational system, our firm is joining other nationally recognized law firms to represent school districts and public entities in the fight to stop the school vaping crisis.
On Oct. 7, 2019, Beasley Allen attorneys and co-counsel filed lawsuits on behalf of school districts in Kansas, Missouri, and New York. These lawsuits are believed to be the first in the United States brought by U.S. school districts that aim to hold JUUL accountable for the youth vaping epidemic. Since that time, many more school districts and public entities nationwide have joined the fight against vape manufacturers on behalf of their students.
These lawsuits accuse JUUL Labs of using deceptive marketing strategies that targeted youth, endangering them with nicotine-containing e-liquids, and leaving school officials to deal with the costs – in money, time, and resources – incurred by students who have become addicted to JUUL. Those who were first to file illustrate the types of complaints schools, school districts and administrators are bringing against the vape industry.
- Russellville School District
- Riverside Elementary School District
- Tolleson Union High School District
- Tucson Unified School District
- Acalanes Union High School District
- Anaheim Elementary School District
- Anaheim Union High School District
- Cabrillo Unified School District
- Cajon Valley Union School District
- Campbell Union High School District
- Castro Valley Unified School District
- Ceres Unified School District
- Chico Unified School District
- Compton Unified School District
- Davis Joint Unified School District
- Downey Unified School District
- El Dorado Union High School District
- Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District
- Glendale Unified School District
- Jefferson Union High School District
- King City Union School District
- Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District
- Los Angeles Unified School District
- Menifee Union School District
- Monterey Peninsula Unified School District
- North Monterey County Unified School District
- North Valley Military Institute
- Pacific Grove Unified School District
- Pajaro Valley Unified School District
- Poway Unified School District
- Rocklin Unified School District
- Roseville Joint Union High School District
- San Diego Unified School District
- San Francisco Unified School District
- San Mateo County Board of Education and Nancy Magee
- San Mateo-Foster City School District
- Santa Cruz City Schools
- Scotts Valley Unified School District
- South San Francisco Unified School District
- The School Board of Lee County Florida
- The School Board of Palm Beach County Florida
- The School Board of Pinellas County Florida
- The School Board of Orange County Florida
- Seminole County Public Schools
- Blue Valley School District Unified School District 229
- Concordia Public Schools Unified School District 333
- De Soto Unified School District 232
- Goddard Public Schools Unified School District 265
- Jayhawk Unified School District 346
- Lawrence Public Schools Unified School District 497
- Lyons Unified School District 405
- Manhattan Unified School District 383
- Olathe Unified School District 233
- Renwick Unified School District 267
- Shawnee Mission School District Unified School District 512
- Smoky Valley Public Schools Unified School District 400
- Unified School District 320 Wamego Schools
- Boone County School District
- Daviess County Public Schools
- Fayette County Public Schools
- Hopkins County School District, By and Through the Hopkins County Board of Education
- Jefferson County Public Schools
- Jessamine County Schools
- LaRue County Public Schools
- Madison County Public Schools
- Marion County Public Schools
- Montgomery County Public Schools
- The Bullitt County School District
- Warren County Public Schools
- Wolfe County School District, By and Through the Wofle County Board of Education
- Ava R-1 School District
- Francis Howell School District
- Mountain Grove R-III School District
- Plainview Old Bethpage Long Island School District
- Southampton Union Free School District
- Three Village Central School District
- Bensalem Township School District
- Central Bucks School District
- Neshaminy School District
- Pennridge School District
- Quakertown Community School District
- Tucker County Public Schools
Engineering an Epidemic
Recent regulatory actions and legislation have targeted JUUL and other vape makers in an effort to put the brakes on the epidemic, including raising the legal vaping age, banning vapes within city limits, and restricting vape flavors. While such efforts throw obstacles in the path of minors seeking to buy JUUL products, they aren’t enough to stop and reverse the trend. JUUL invested millions of dollars in designing its products and ad campaigns with youth in mind, solidly positioning itself as an iconic must-have product among middle and high school students.
The 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that more than 5 million youth currently vape, with the majority of youth using JUUL. In fact, this data reveals 27.5% of high school students and 11.5% of middle school students vape. This means that the number of U.S. kids who vape has grown from 3.6 million last year to 5 million this year – an increase of nearly 30%. And, despite other “copycat” products on the market, research finds the majority of youth who vape use JUUL.
Researchers have also found that teens are four times more prone to trying conventional tobacco cigarettes if they have ever vaped. Big Tobacco knows this, which is why Altria, the world’s largest cigarette manufacturer, invested billions of dollars in JUUL.
The same government researchers have found no evidence that the youth vaping epidemic is slowing down, meaning kids are trying vapes for the first time and getting hooked in alarming numbers. Not surprisingly, JUUL continues to be the brand of choice among school students and young adults.
Vaping Is Harming Our Schools
Joseph VanZandt, who is leading Beasley Allen’s JUUL School District Litigation team, says “JUUL products have infiltrated schools and become a fixture in the lives of America’s youth. The result of JUUL’s conduct is a youth vaping epidemic that uniquely impacts schools, which have been forced to incur a multitude of costs to address this problem and face the challenge of how to help a generation of youth addicted to nicotine. Beasley Allen is honored to team up with a group of law firms committed to protecting public health to represent school districts around the country who are fighting back to protect children and education systems.”
While JUUL and other vape makers continue to profit billions, U.S. schools and school systems are often stretched beyond their means to keep vapes off their campuses. First, there’s prevention. Installing vape sensors and cameras in order to deter students from vaping on campus is already a considerable expense.
At least 10 school districts in New Jersey have installed vaping detectors throughout their schools and one manufacturer has received about 100 requests from other school districts looking to do the same. As of August 2019, the anti-vaping devices were being used by school districts in all but four states.
A Costly Problem
One Ohio high school and middle school had 16 vape detectors installed, paid for with taxpayer money. At a cost of well over $1,000 per unit, the vape detectors can saddle school systems with unnecessary costs, taking badly needed funds away from basic educational materials.
In Alabama, one high school took the drastic step of removing the doors from all bathroom stalls, drawing the ire of parents who suggested the school hire bathroom monitors or implement other forms of surveillance. But all these ideas boil down to how much money schools have at their disposal. Too often, the answer is not enough.
Regardless of how well these systems work, however, they won’t solve the problem completely. Hundreds of learning hours are lost when students are suspended for using JUUL on school premises. As any administrator knows, attendance is correlated to budget. Suspending students can cost a district thousands of dollars, on top of what it already may have spent on vape detectors.
When suspended students return, schools must divert more resources to make up for the time they lost.
The costs to school districts and public entities don’t stop there. In addition to systems and processes designed to stop students from using JUUL, administrators have found they must also invest in treatment for those who have become addicted. This comes in the form of counselors and preventative programs designed to provide students with long-term support. With not only teenagers but also young children being exposed to, and in many cases becoming users of, JUUL, schools are beginning to understand the fight against addiction may be a very long one.
Nicotine is a drug, and when an addict needs a drug but lacks the means to get a “fix,” he or she may resort to theft and other crimes to support their habit.
One study conducted by a University of Texas at San Antonio criminal justice professor looked at a national sample of 8th and 10th graders. The study found that adolescents who vape are at a heightened risk of engaging in criminal activities such as violence and property theft. Even students who vaped cannabis (THC) were found to be significantly more likely to engage in violent and property crimes than students who used traditional forms of marijuana.
We Are Helping School Districts Fight Back
If you’re a school administrator, you may be wondering what the point of a lawsuit is. If one or more of the campuses in your district is suffering from a JUUL problem, it is likely expensive. Prevention efforts, added security, additional resources to help students with addiction problems – it all adds up.
JUUL targeted children from the start. It knew what it was doing, and it did it anyway. A lawsuit can help your district regain some of the resources lost fighting JUUL’s corporate recklessness. The firms working together to represent school districts and public entities in this litigation together with Beasley Allen are Baron & Budd, P.C.; GozaHonnold Trial Lawyers; Panish Shea & Boyle LLP; Wagstaff & Cartmell; and Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger.
You can contact the attorneys at Beasley Allen by filling out the form below. They can give you a free case evaluation and help you plan a path forward.
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