Albion school district joins class-action lawsuit against JUUL, maker of vaping products

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 February 2021 at 12:42 pm

ALBION – The Albion Board of Education voted on Monday to join hundreds of other school districts around the country in a class-action lawsuit against  JUUL, which makes and markets vaping products.

Albion won’t have to spend any money on lawyers as part of the lawsuit that is currently pending in the Northern District of California.

Plaintiffs are alleging JUUL Labs, the largest manufacturer of vaping products in the world, fraudulently and intentionally marketed its products to children through social media, online advertising and even television networks for children.

“It’s no risk to the district and only a gain for our students if we do win,” Derek Vallese, the Albion business administrator, told the Board of Education on Monday evening.

Albion and the other school districts could receive part of a monetary award to recoup costs of any vaping-related issues on campus. Some districts are also asking for additional damages to compensate for future expenses, according to a memorandum to the district from the Bond Schoeneck & King lawfirm.

An example of a cost incurred by a district is installing vape detectors in every district bathroom or hiring additional staff to supervise potential vaping areas on campus.

“In addition, we anticipate that school districts will likely need to hire additional counselors to deal with the well-documented social and emotional issues associated with nicotine addiction,” Bond Schoeneck & King said. “Finally, districts may need to incorporate educational programs about the harms of vaping and are seeking monetary damages in the lawsuit to cover the cost of that endeavor.”

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are seeking a court order to stop JUUL from continuing to manufacture, market and sell their “flavor pods” that are particularly attractive to children.

JUUL has marketed its products to make children believe vaping and the products weren’t harmful. But the lawsuits says the e-cigarettes could contain 10 times the amount of nicotine a as traditional cigarette.

The company also targeted children with the products with flavors such as fruit medley, crème brulee and mango.

Albion’s only cost in the lawsuit could be having about 10 hours of staff time to prepare documents and information for the legal team, according to the memorandum from the Bond Schoeneck & King lawfirm.

The Frantz Law Group in California is the lead firm in the lawsuit. The lawfirm normally receives 40 percent of a plaintiff’s recovery, but has agreed to reduce that to 20 percent if the case is resolved in the first year and 25 percent if resolved after a year.

Bond Schoeneck & King will serve as co-counsel the Frantz Law Group and will act as a liaison between Albion and Frantz.