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LOS ANGELES–The Los Angeles Unified School District (Los Angeles Unified) has filed a class action lawsuit against JUUL Labs, Inc., the leading e-cigarette manufacturer, for creating an epidemic of youth vaping that has infiltrated the second-largest school district in the country, impeding student learning and putting the health and safety of more than 600,000 Los Angeles Unified students at risk. The District is represented in the matter by attorneys Brian Panish, Rahul Ravipudi and Jesse Creed of Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, John Fiske and Scott Summy of Baron & Budd, P.C., and David Holmquist, Alexander Molina and Devora Navera Reed of the Office of General Counsel for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
“We are here to join others in the cause to stop this epidemic,” Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner said. “The money we are spending to deal with the trauma vaping is bringing into our schools, is money not spent on instruction. By filing this lawsuit today, we are taking a step toward ensuring those responsible will pay the price to repair the harm done to our students, our schools and the communities we serve.”
According to the District, student vaping incidences throughout Los Angeles Unified have increased tenfold since 2013. During the 2018-19 academic year alone, there were approximately 435 critical incidents reported, however, these numbers dramatically underestimate the total incidences of vaping and e-cigarette use on campus, as they reflect only critical incidents reported by principals. By the end of the current school year, the number of critical incidents is expected to be substantially higher.
As alleged in the complaint, the vaping epidemic has, and will, continue to challenge the academic achievements of all Los Angeles Unified students as the District is forced to divert its resources, time and effort to combat the issue. Not only has vaping affected individual learning, it has led to a rise in student absences, which in-turn causes a reduction in District state funding. Funds typically used for classroom instruction are now being diverted for educational campaigns, prevention and treatment for student vaping as well as the launch of an internal task force of administrators and staff to enforce vaping restrictions and dispose of vaping paraphernalia on campus. District property has also been affected as some student bathrooms — often referred to as the “JUUL room” — cannot be utilized due to high instances of bathroom vaping.
The District recognizes there is an increasing and immediate need to create and fund intervention, cessation and treatment programs for Los Angeles Unified students as it plans for the devastating impacts of a “JUULing future.”
“JUUL designed its device and used deceptive marketing to entice and sustain an entire generation of underage consumers into nicotine addiction,” attorney Brian Panish said. “We intend to hold JUUL accountable for its role in the vaping crisis that has affected our youth, our schools, and families across the country who are combating the real and life-threatening consequences of JUUL’s irresponsible practices.”
Los Angeles Unified School District v. JUUL Labs, Inc. et al
Superior Court in the State of California, County of San Bernardino, San Bernardino District Court
Case No.: CIV DS 1932301
DOWNLOAD PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO: https://lausd.wistia.com/medias/qxle3z1kcw
DOWNLOAD SUPERINTENDENT BEUTNER’S REMARKS: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aIfvesmQrU5aW6lOsDA7JigWfSSGBIZx/view?usp=sharing
DOWNLOAD COMPLAINT AND CASE MATERIALS: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/a4r361v9j4pn6kp/AADcZFkMAys0NfXLSAaqgswca?dl=0
Panish Shea & Boyle LLP is a nationally recognized personal injury law firm representing plaintiffs in catastrophic injury, wrongful death, product liability, mass torts/class action, and business litigation cases. Firm attorneys have obtained some of the most significant awards for plaintiffs in U.S. history, including a $4.9 billion verdict in Anderson v. GM, and are repeatedly recognized for excellence by other trial attorneys, legal organizations and publications nationwide. The firm is ranked by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers® as a “Tier 1” Firm – the highest ranking a firm can receive – in the areas of Plaintiffs Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions, Plaintiffs Personal Injury Litigation and Plaintiffs Product Liability Litigation, and is recognized as being among the top Plaintiff’s law firms in the country by the National Law Journal.
Baron & Budd, P.C. is among the largest and most accomplished plaintiffs’ law firms in the country. With 40 years of experience, Baron & Budd has the expertise and resources to handle complex litigation throughout the United States. As a law firm that takes pride in remaining at the forefront of litigation, Baron & Budd has spearheaded many significant cases for entities and individuals. Since the firm was founded in 1977, Baron & Budd has achieved substantial national acclaim for its work on cutting-edge litigation, trying hundreds of cases to verdict and settling tens of thousands of cases in areas of litigation as diverse as pharmaceuticals and defective medical devices, asbestos and mesothelioma, water contamination, fraudulent banking practices, motor vehicles, and other consumer fraud issues.
The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) of the Los Angeles Unified School District seeks to be nothing less than the best public law office in Los Angeles County. The OGC is an ethical, high performance legal department with high professional standards and integrity that provides first class legal service to the teachers, supervisors and administrators who support the District’s 600,000 plus students that we educate. While we use our skills to advise and counsel schools and administrative offices, we recognize that our ultimate clients are the students of the District and their families, and work to support the District’s vision that all of our students will graduate, college prepared and career ready.