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Friday, November 08, 2019

SPS Suing Vaping Company

Seattle Public Schools files lawsuit against vaping company Juul. From KOMO:

Seattle Public Schools is suing Juul, alleging the vaping company has targeted teenagers.
“There is no doubt that vaping is reaching epidemic proportions among teenagers, and we can’t just sit by while our students suffer the effects of being targeted by Juul,” said Superintendent Denise Juneau. 

he district says that there was a 250% increase in the number of 10th graders who admitted to vaping between 2016 and 2018. It also notes that there has been an increase in vaping among students between 6th and 12th grades across the state.  

The school district filed the lawsuit Thursday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, though officials expect it will be consolidated into the multi-district case underway in San Francisco. Seattle schools have hired the law firm Keller Rohrback, which is also representing other public entities -- such as King County -- that are currently suing Juul.
Really? This is what the district wants to spend money on in a big way.  I definitely don't like vaping and there should be redoubled efforts around schools.

But we have a fairly active attorney general in the form of Bob Ferguson who has beat the Trump administration what? six times in court. Why not leave this to him and the State and the County?

I perceive this as some grandstanding on the part of the Superintendent.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm in no way a fan of vaping, but where does the District get off hiring a law firm to go after Juul? My kid's school only has a nurse one day a week leaving teachers and the school administrators to deal with health issues--am I alone in thinking they're putting their resources in the wrong place?

Flummoxed

Melissa Westbrook said...

I agree, Flummoxed. If King County is already doing this, why jump in? Maybe the district thinks there is money to be had - after paying those expensive lawyers - but I would rather see this kind of money being used for classrooms, not courtrooms.

Leslie said...

The post is incorrect.

"I perceive this as some grandstanding on the part of the Superintendent,"
NO.

The SPS School Board approved this, Chief Counsel Gregory Narver brought it to the President and the SPS Board.

Keller Rohrback LLP is working on a contingent percentage fee basis - no fees unless a recovery is made.

Why SPS is a party instead of relying on State & County? Because the damages, if any, will not flow back to SPS to hire additional nurses, and wrap-around services that are needed with the vaping epidemic.

Cordially,
Leslie Harris
President, District 6, SPS Board of Directors
leslie.harris@seattleschools.org
schoolboard@seattleschools.org

Anonymous said...

An absurd waste of resources. Empty virtue signaling, par for the course for SPS.

FNH

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, Director Harris, that's fine but it doesn't change my opinion. I would bet that the district will spend more than it gets in return AND that's just short-lived money for a long-term problem.

Anonymous said...

Harris, the only epidemic you should be worrying about is why African American males are failing to graduate or graduating and only reading at 5th grade level. How about hiring a lawyer for that!

Geeze

Anonymous said...

It's weird that Harris works in the legal field and knows the lawyers suing and she signs off on her friends making money. You would think the money should go to the kids injured, not SPS and its buddies.

--Pro Quo

Anonymous said...

Melissa - My initial reaction to reading your post was to say good for SPS! SPS is finally doing something right. The vaping epidemic affects students and SPS absolutely needs to be a leading voice here. Director Harris' comments of no fees unless victory is even more reassuring. SPS is on the moral right side of the debate, and is doing this without wasting resources. Moreover, if they are part of this suit, they will be able to reap benefits if they are the victors - otherwise, victor's funds wouldn't come to SPS at all.

FNH. Not a waste of resources. You may have posted prior to getting a chance to read Director Harris' post.

Melissa. It is short term money. But that's not the only point. It is addressing the long term problem of advertising to minors. I'm glad SPS stepped up to the plate on this one. It was a no brainer.

Geeze. People know that those furthest away from educational justice need rethinking regarding how best to enhance educational opportunities and outcomes. Your comment doesn't move forward that discussion, nor does it detract from the importance of the vaping problem. SPS can try to address more than one issue at a time.

Pro Quo. Conspiracy theories everywhere. We sue with lawyers. SPS needs to participate in this suit. That a director is also a lawyer does negate her ability or authority to approve law suits that need to move forward. If anything, she is perhaps better positioned to do so.

BLUE SKY

Anonymous said...

Misplace my NOT in the above. Meant to say:

Pro Quo. Conspiracy theories everywhere. We sue with lawyers. SPS needs to participate in this suit. That a director is also a lawyer does NOT negate her ability or authority to approve law suits that need to move forward. If anything, she is perhaps better positioned to do so.

BLUE SKY

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay Blue Sky, but I'm not sure what vaping has to do with those furthest from educational justice (in a specific way, no kid should vape).

Director Harris is not a lawyer; she's a paralegal.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'll just note that having a lawyer on the Board and a paralegal on the Board hasn't really been that obvious a help.

Anonymous said...

'Robinson could not speculate about how long it will take for the lawsuit to play out, but he did note that the cases against tobacco "did drag on for a long time" and that "we are at the leading edge, right now."'

How much does representation in a lawsuit that drags on for "a long time" cost us???
Is this legal? This sounds a like PR stunt.

I just want the district to focus their vision and reach on education. (And how about TRANSPARENCY.) Nothing more. I feel like I'm going insane.
--Down the rabbit hole

Anonymous said...

Paying fees to a lawyer and devoting internal resources (people=costs) to an effort are two different things. Just because we don't pay fees if there's no recovery does not mean we don't bear any costs. That's not to say we should not join in--just that it's not a freebie.

HF

Anonymous said...

Maybe Juneau has figured out a way to blame the vaping epidemic on HCC kids. That will burnish her SJW resume.

Whatever happened to the notion that schools should focus on educating kids?

Basics

NSP said...

HF and Rabbit Hole, go back and read Harris' post. The lawyers are doing this on contingency, so SPS doesn't pay them unless they get a settlement. If they lose, SPS loses nothing. If they win, SPS and the lawyers split the money (don't know the actual percentages). SPS can't lose money here.

Anonymous said...

@NSP, perhaps you didn't read my post carefully. If they work with a lawyer to try to recover costs, regardless of whether they pay the lawyer or not, there will be SPS staff involved in the effort. If staff time goes toward this effort, that's a cost. It's not a "new" cost in the sense that we aren't already paying these people, but it's a cost nonetheless--because they could be doing other things (or if they are sitting around with nothing to do, they could be downsized).

Staff ARE needed to work on this, even if a law firm is doing the bulk of the work. You don't just send a simple email to lawyer to file a suit. SPS Chief Counsel Gregory Narver, for example, was mentioned by name in Dir. Harris's post. SPS spokesperson Tim Robinson, was quoted in the article. I'm sure there are staff in the SPS legal dept who also worked on it, and Juneau was undoubtedly aware. There were likely admin people in various depts helping pull information, route materials, collaborate with the Board on approval, etc.

I didn't say SPS would "lose money," nor did I say it was a bad idea to sign on. There was a discussion about whether this was costing the district anything, and I simply pointed out that participation without "fee"s still involves costs (e.g., paid staff's time). One could argue quite reasonably that devoting staff resources to an unsuccessful effort does constitute "losing money."

Does everything need to be an argument or a game of "gotcha" these days, with people just jumping at the chance to criticize someone's reasonable post, even if they haven't read it carefully or understood it fully? It's so unfortunate.

HF

Anonymous said...

Melissa said: "Okay Blue Sky, but I'm not sure what vaping has to do with those furthest from educational justice (in a specific way, no kid should vape)."

To clarify, my comment was in response to Geeze, who said: "Harris, the only epidemic you should be worrying about is why African American males are failing to graduate or graduating and only reading at 5th grade level. How about hiring a lawyer for that!"

My point was simply that SPS can tackle both problems at the same time.

BLUE SKY

Anonymous said...

There is an epidemic of vaping going on in our schools. Vaping interferes with education and may influence the developing teenage brain (effects of nicotine). If SPS had NOT tackled this one, they would have been derelict. That some minor staff time will be spent on this in a meeting or two is time well spent.

Juneau is damned if she does, and damned if she doesn't. Had SPS not responded, the likes of me would have complained re her lack of leadership, as this is an issue of great public health import to students.

I'm giving credit where credit is due on this one. Kudos to SPS for joining this fight.

BLUE SKY

Dum said...

How does vaping interfere with education? What else interferes with education? Drugs and alcohol. Should we sue those entities? Video games?

What about teacher strikes? They’re illegal and close schools down. Should we race for an injunction next time the pickets go up?

This is stupid.

Anonymous said...

Dum. Yes, SPS deals with many problems that affect students. And no, not everything is dealt with via a law suit. Each problem needs to be addressed in an appropriate way. SPS deals with low educational attainment in a myriad of ways, including providing additional educational support. SPS deals with teacher strikes through negotiations. For dealing with the epidemic of vaping, yes, the right approach is a law suit.
Your sarcasm is misplaced - does nothing to advance your argument.

BLUE SKY

NSP said...

You're right HF, I accidentally conflated your post with FNH's at the beginning. Apologies.

Anonymous said...

People! Unless you have lived through the direct harm caused by juul in your own kid, you cannot appreciate SPS doing SOMETHING about it. My child started vaping at 16, having that crap delivered through our mailbox, did it right under our noses in front of a younger sibling... It is easy for you to criticize everything the district does but this time I completely support the lawsuit. I hope they interview SPS students as part of their exhibits and I hope students and parents come forward to share their experiences.

Fed Up

Anonymous said...

Fed Up You often post inflammatory comments toward parents who are advocating for an appropriate education (educational justice) for their children, a big critic of both white kids and HC in SPS. You do know it is largely white middle class kids vaping don't you? Look at the recent stats at the schools with highest amount of 10th graders vaping. I am really surprised you are not upset that the district is taking focus away from "kids furthest from educational justice" with this lawsuit. Maybe because you said your own kid was vaping?

Also Fed Up

Anonymous said...

@ Also Fed Up,
If disagreeing with others on this forum is inflammatory, then I am inflammatory.
I am NOT anti-white. I am not anti-HC. I am pro equity in education.
I am aware of the statistics on vaping. My kid is white, socio-economically privileged. My child fits the profile.
Vaping sucks regardless.

Fed Up

Anonymous said...

@Fed Up Your posts have been very anti-white and anti-HC. Some could make the argument that equity and the mission of this district is only about kids furthest from educational justice. Therefore, the district should not be engaging in lawsuits that take attention away from students furthest from educational justice. Kids like yours will be o.k right?

There is no educational justice for kids returning to schools where walk to math and differentiation does not exist. If the top 2% are in a racist program that, there is no difference in racial makeup if the district keeps it for the top 1%. This difference of 1 versus 2% is arbitrary.

Also Fed Up