Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
LPS plans to join other school districts suing company that makes vaping products
editor's pick alert

LPS plans to join other school districts suing company that makes vaping products

From the What you missed this week in notable Southeast Nebraska crimes and court cases series
{{featured_button_text}}

Lincoln Public Schools will be the first Nebraska school district to join 250 districts across the country in suing a company for allegedly targeting the sale of its popular vaping products to young people.

The Lincoln Board of Education on Tuesday gave its lawyers the go-ahead to file a federal lawsuit as part of an effort to hold Juul Labs Inc. accountable for allegedly creating a highly addictive product and targeting young people with fruity and minty flavors and easily concealed pods.

Called a mass-action litigation, LPS will file a lawsuit drafted by a California law firm in U.S. District Court in Nebraska that will be consolidated with lawsuits from 22 states in a California federal court.

William Shinoff, with Frantz Law Group and the lead attorney on the case, said the lawsuits were filed separately because the harm caused to districts — given the differences of size and location — differs, but they’ll be consolidated for purposes of litigation.

What should Lincoln high school in Air Park be named? Official process begins

Nationally, the number of 12th graders who reported consuming nicotine doubled between 2017 and 2018, and in 2019, more than 5 million middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes, according to lawsuits filed by other school districts.

At LPS, the number of students caught possessing or using vaping products more than doubled from the 2017-18 school year (139) to 2019-20 (376), according to district officials. In comparison, just 62 students were caught using or possessing tobacco products in each of those years.

In 2019-20 — when students were in school for only three quarters of the year because of the pandemic — 390 students were caught vaping or possessing vaping products, compared with just 39 with tobacco.

Teaching social studies in Lincoln as history unfolds in D.C.

Shinoff, who represented southern California school districts for nine years before joining the Frantz lawsuit, said all his clients saw the surge in vaping, after years of work to reduce tobacco use by students.

He said an investigation into Juul has revealed how it targeted its highly addictive product to minors through social media marketing and the flavors it created, following a similar philosophy once used by tobacco companies: if you addict young customers, you create a customer for life.

“The issue spilled over onto school campuses, disrupting the learning environment,” he said. “When a company creates something like this, they have to be held accountable.”

Lincoln seventh grader creates a diverse world of kids-turned-superheroes in a book he started in third grade

The lawsuits seek monetary damages to help schools with prevention efforts such as vaping detectors, supervision, counselors and education efforts.

The lawsuits also seek injunctive relief to stop the company from marketing to young people, including making pods in appealing flavors.

Jim Gessford, an attorney who represents LPS, said one of the advantages for the district is that the lawsuit will be filed on a contingent basis, which means, other than filing fees, LPS will pay nothing unless the lawsuit is successful. He said the lawsuit likely will be filed within the next three months. 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSreist

0
1
0
0
1

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Education reporter

Margaret Reist is a Lincoln native, the mom of three high school graduates now navigating college and an education junkie who covers students, teachers and policymakers inside and outside the K-12 classroom.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Breaking News

Husker News