AUHSD v. JUUL Labs, Inc. - Press Release
January 28, 2020
Acalanes Union High School District Files Suit Against JUUL Labs, Inc. for Creating the E-Cigarette Epidemic that Disrupts District-Wide Education
Today, the Acalanes Union High School District filed a lawsuit against JUUL Labs, Inc. for the company’s role in cultivating and fostering an e-cigarette epidemic that disrupts the education and learning environment across the District. The suit was filed in the Contra Costa County Superior Court on January 27, 2020 (Case No. C20-00161).
Five districts, all members of a consortium of California school districts filing against JUUL, filed on Monday, January 27th, including the following: Rocklin Unified School District, Acalanes Union High School District, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, Anaheim Union High School District, and Poway Unified School District.
Ten more school districts in the consortium had filed prior to January 27th, including the following: Los Angeles Unified School District, San Diego Unified School District, Glendale Unified School District, Compton Unified School District, King City Union School District, Ceres Unified School District, Anaheim Elementary School District, Campbell Union High School District, Chico Unified School District, Davis Joint Unified School District, all against JUUL for the same negligence and nuisance claims. Together, the consortium of school districts serve more than 1 million California students.
The lawsuit seeks injunction and abatement to stop the e-cigarette epidemic, which has severely impacted the school districts by interfering with normal school operations. The District also seeks compensatory damages to provide relief from the district’s financial losses as a result of students being absent from school, coordinating outreach and education programs regarding the health risks of vaping, and enforcement actions – such as vape detectors, video surveillance, and staff to monitor the school’s property in an effort to combat the e-cigarette crisis.
“The rapid climb of e-cigarette usage rates among our students has been alarming over the past five years. Given the intentional e-cigarette product development and marketing targeting teenagers, Juul should be held accountable,” said Acalanes Union High School District Superintendent John Nickerson. “We hope this lawsuit will be a positive and effective step to address the vaping epidemic that has harmed youth and put an extraordinary burden on high school operations, culture and safety.”
Since entering the market in 2015, JUUL has dominated the e-cigarette industry and now controls over 70% of the market. Reports found that in 2018, 4.9 million middle and high school students used tobacco products, with 3.6 million of those students using e-cigarettes. From 2017 to 2018, youth e-cigarette users increased by 1.5 million. The lawsuit alleges that growth is largely based on JUUL’s market strategy, which is to target school-age children to ensure the continual growth of their consumer base.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that the 2018 spike in nicotine vaping was the largest for any substance recorded in 44 years. The lawsuits allege that JUUL’s aggressive, strategic marketing and product designs not only created an addiction crisis among youth consumers, but also a widespread burden on school districts.
Acalanes Union High School District is represented by John P. Fiske and Torri Sherlin of Baron & Budd, P.C. and Brian Panish and Rahul Ravipudi of Panish, Shea, & Boyle, LLP.