Goddard school district plans to sue manufacturers, distributors and sellers of e-cigs

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GODDARD, Kan. (KSNW) – The Goddard USD 265 Board of Education of Monday night passed a resolution authorizing Wagstaff & Cartmell, L.L.P to initiate litigation and file suit “against manufacturers, distributors and sellers of electronic cigarettes and vaping products.”

Goddard Public Schools leaders say vaping has become an epidemic and it’s time to take action.

“It’s a significant problem,” said Goddard USD 265 School Board President Kevin McWhorter. “Vaping has exploded, and it’s a product people don’t know how dangerous it is. Kids shouldn’t be doing it, and it has a bad impact on learning.”

The Goddard Board of Education in a statement said that it believes electronic cigarettes and vaping products are extremely harmful to current and future students. They add, “It is our responsibility to support and protect the physical, social and emotional well-being of our students.”

The district statement said, in part, “It is important to note, this does not require the district allocating resources to fund this process. That is the responsibility of the law firm. Our Board of Education strongly believes electronic cigarettes and vaping products are extremely harmful to our current and future students.”

Board President McWhorter says school districts across the country are expending a lot of resources fighting vaping.

“This really hampers the daily activities of kids. We have to educate the public on the dangers of this issue,” said McWhorter.

Superintendent Dr. Justin Henry says it’s not just high school kids that are vaping in large numbers.

“It’s a middle school issue too and it probably is below that,” said Henry. “Normally if one student is vaping it’s not just one. They have shared it with somebody else or multiple kids have had it.”

The school leaders say they are working out the details of the lawsuit. They add the JUUL company will be a key part of the lawsuit but they will also name other makers of vaping products in the lawsuit.

Part of the resolution passed by the Goddard school board on Monday night says they have authorized the firm of Wagstaff & Cartmell to initiate litigation and file suit against any appropriate parties to compensate the district for damages. KSN reached out to the law firm multiple times but did not get a response back on Tuesday.

KSN asked if there is a dollar amount named in the suit, and school officials say they are still talking about those details.

“The important thing is we start this conversation,” said Henry. “It’s a bigger issue. It’s them doing it. How is it impacting their brain now and in the future? How much time and resources are our administrators (and) law enforcement agencies having to put toward this?”

School leaders say this is not planned as a class action lawsuit. They also say they hope it leads to other school districts across the country suing as well.

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