District 99 sues vaping company Juul Laboratories

District+99+takes+legal+actions+against+vaping+company+Juul+Laboratories+for+resources+expended+to+combat+vaping+epidemic.

Teagan Smith

District 99 takes legal actions against vaping company Juul Laboratories for resources expended to combat vaping epidemic.

On Jan. 25 the school board members of District 99 voted in favor of taking legal actions against the vaping company Juul Laboratories.

Throughout 2017, Juul has been the most popular vaping and e-cigarette brand in the United States—this popularity did not exclude high school students. Many schools were forced to create new programs and security to combat this vaping epidemic. Now these schools are filing lawsuits against Juul for reparations.

Superintendent Hank Thiele explains the class action lawsuit against Juul Laboratories being made by District 99.

“The litigation seeks to compensate school districts for costs they have incurred and may incur in the future addressing the [vaping] epidemic such as costs of policy changes, disciplinary proceedings, SRO, staff and attorney time. We have definitely been impacted by vaping and were one of the first districts in the area to have a strong response to the trend in teens,” Thiele said.

District 99 had a fast and strong response to the vaping epidemic when it began to affect students. District 99 was featured in a story on CBS in 2018 for the impact of vaping on students and the school environment.

“The district has invested a lot of resources, including guest speakers, material development and video production responding to this rise in [nicotine] use. It would be helpful to be reimbursed in some way for all of the work that vaping has caused the district while we helped to protect our students,” Thiele said.

District 99 currently has Student Assistance Coordinators at each building dedicated to aid students in living drug free lifestyles. Thiele provided insight on how this has impacted our schools.

“We are one of the few school districts that still have Student Assistance Coordinators on staff, with one in each building. Our Student Assistance Coordinators support the development of student leaders, coordinate school-based prevention activities and events and provide education and intervention services in substance use and social-emotional health. These are the counselors that spearhead interventions to prevent the use of substances and support students and families when students do engage in these behaviors,” Thiele said.

These legal actions are expected to continue throughout the next few years. The case will not cost District 99 any money if they do not win, but can work in their favor if they do.

“This is a contingency fee case, there is no upfront cost to the district. The attorney’s would only be paid through a portion of monetary recovery for the district,” Theile said.