Wichita school district approves possible legal action against e-cigarette maker

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) The Wichita Schools Board of Education at its meeting Monday approved a resolution to pursue possible legal action to combat against students' use of e-cigarettes.

The resolution specifically authorizes law firm Hutton & Hutton "to investigate the use of JUUL e-cigarettes and other vaping devices from from the standpoint of damages caused by the use of these products by district students."

From this, the resolution "authorizes the filing of a lawsuit if the filing of a lawsuit is justified from the investigation."

The district recommends the board approve the resolution and an engagement letter with Hutton & Hutton, which essentially clarifies that the law firm would only receive payment "if a recover is obtained on the district's behalf."

"No legal fees or expenses of litigation would be owed if the lawsuit is not successful," the district says.

As the largest school district in Kansas, USD 259 would become the most notable plaintiff in the potential lawsuit against JUUL Labs, Inc., joining several school districts in the state that have already cleared the way for possible legal action.

Among the districts already taking the legal stand are Valley Center and Goddard in the Wichita area and Olathe in the Kansas City metro area.

The Wichita school district says litigation against JUUL "is rapidly gaining momentum nationwide."

In its resolution, the district outlines problems association with students vaping at school.

"When students vape on school property, their actions create distractions for other students who are engaged in the learning process," the resolution says. "Teachers and administrators must depart from their normal duties to monitor restroom and other areas of school buildings and property where vaping takes place. Students who vape go through a school's disciplinary process and must also be referred to the school nurse for evaluation."

The resolution says "vaping also creates a drain on school district services, with additional demand on (board of education) Security officers and Wichita Police Department School Resource Officers."

The district mentions one of its strategic-plan goals which "is designed to ensure that schools are trusted as safe places by students, parents, staff, and community."

"Vaping is a safety hazard to students and staff on district property," the resolution says.