JACKSON TWP — Following in the footsteps of other Butler County school districts, the Seneca Valley School Board on Monday voted to join a national lawsuit against JUUL Labs Inc. and other makers of electronic cigarettes.
Similar lawsuits, which allege the e-cigarette manufacturers intentionally advertise to children, seek compensation for the time and resources spent “to combat rampant use of” vaping devices by students as well as punitive damages from the manufacturers.
Solicitor Matthew Hoffman, of Tucker Arensberg, said at the board's work meeting Nov. 2 that Seneca's lawsuit would in many respects be identical to those filed by other participating districts. Butler law firm Dillon McCandless King Coulter & Graham, which has represented the other districts in their filing of a complaint, will also work with Seneca. A law firm in California and Hoffman's firm will also be involved.
The lawsuit is a “mass action,” Hoffman said, meaning there are a large number of plaintiffs each bringing their individual complaints, but are being compiled into a case in the California district.
Hoffman said the district would not have to pay cash for representation in the lawsuit, but instead that the firms are working on contingency — they would take their fees from whatever the final damages awarded to Seneca would be.
Some board members expressed concern that administration members would have to be dragged into another time-consuming measure as they continue to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its continued effect on Seneca Valley, its students and staff.
But Hoffman assured the board that the administrators' actions would likely be limited to affidavits and compiling data, the latter being something they've been doing. He said depositions would only be necessary if the administrators volunteered it — which he added was very unlikely.