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JPS Enters Into Litigation Involving Opioids, Vaping

Members of the Jamestown Public Schools Board voted this week to participate in opioid and Juul litigation with other municipalities and school districts.

Dr. Kevin Whitaker, Jamestown schools superintendent, said the class action lawsuit is due to a company that provided opioids as a manufacturer and distributor going bankrupt. As part of those proceedings, he said several public entities are attempting to recuperate damages for the loss of life, addiction issues, and struggles that families and students have had to endure due to opioids.

Likewise, he said Juul, a company that produces vaping products, is also connected to the same suit, which alleges that Juul marketed their products directly to youth in their advertising. Whitaker said Juul specifically advertised their products to young children and teens, creating flavors like grapefruit and watermelon so “students would become addicted to their product and then would end up with subsequent health issues.”

“Their interest, of course, was that they purchased the product, not so much the health issues,” he said. “However, that’s what resulted. What also has resulted along the way and continues to happen is that school districts across the country, even including ours, have had to spend a lot of personnel time supervising and managing the use of Juuls in school. Vaping has been a huge distraction, and it costs quite a bit of money for all sorts of school districts, and this is an attempt as a class to get some of that money returned to us as a result of their direct marketing to kids.”

The resolution authorized the district to enter into the class action lawsuit and directs the superintendent and administrative staff to cooperate with attorneys, gather the necessary information for the lawsuit. The resolution stipulated that the district would expend no resources or funds for participation in the lawsuit, aside from personnel time needed to gather data.

“(Vaping) manufacturers have targetted younger people, so we have had to exhaust district resources and combatted this in our schools, and of course, anything that would discourage the use of items like this by our students, we certainly want to stand behind,” said Board President Paul Abbott.

Patrick Slagle, board vice president, said it was good for the district to participate in the lawsuit to recuperate funds spent on managing issues with vaping without expending resources on the efforts.

The resolution passed unanimously.

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