SAN DIEGO – A national coalition of law firms has filed two lawsuits on behalf of the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) and San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) to hold JUUL Labs, Inc. accountable for impeding district-wide education. The lawsuits blame JUUL for its role in creating a vaping epidemic and resurgence in youth nicotine addiction that impedes the learning environments in schools across California.
The national law firm coalition includes Baron & Budd, P.C.; Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis and Miles, PC; Goza & Honnold, LLC; Panish Shea & Boyle LLP; Wagstaff & Cartmell, LLP; and Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger. The coalition is working together to help school districts and public entities combat the youth vaping epidemic. For more information about the coalition and its mission, visit SchoolVapingCrisis.com.
According to Joseph VanZandt, who is leading Beasley Allen’s JUUL School District Litigation team, “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.”
The LACOE is the largest regional education agency in the country and provides programs and services to 80 school districts in the county and more than 2 million preschool and school-age children. The SDCOE supports nearly 780 schools and more than 500,000 students and provides services to 42 school districts, 124 charter schools, and five community college districts in the county.
The two Offices of Education, serving more than 2.5 million students and 122 Districts, have filed suit as school districts are overwhelmed trying to manage the pervasive “juuling,” which has increased by tenfold since 2013.
These Offices join 31 California school districts that have also filed to take a stand against JUUL’s promotion of dangerous and addictive products.
The lawsuits seek injunctive relief and abatement remedy to combat the e-cigarette epidemic, which has severely impacted the school districts by interfering with normal school operations. The districts are also seeking compensatory damages to provide relief from the districts’ financial losses as a result of students being absent from school, the extensive costs to orchestrate outreach and education programs regarding the risk of vaping, and deploying the enforcement restrictions – such as vape detectors, surveillance systems, and staff to monitor the school’s property in an effort to combat the e-cigarette crisis.
Since entering the market in 2015, JUUL has dominated the e-cigarette industry and has controlled more than 70% of the market. Over a million JUUL e-cigarettes were sold between 2015 and 2017. In fact, the e-cigarette category grew 97% to $1.96 billion between June 2017 and June 2018 alone. That growth is largely based on JUUL’s market strategy, which is to target school-age children, the lawsuit alleges.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that the 2018 spike in nicotine vaping was the largest for any substance recorded in 44 years and the number of youth e-cigarette users increased by 1.5 million between 2017 and 2018. The lawsuit alleges JUUL’s aggressive, strategic marketing and product designs not only create an addiction crisis among youth consumers, but also a broader health crisis. The 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that more than 5 million youth currently vape, with the majority of youth using JUUL.