Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley join growing number of school districts suing Juul

by Dan Margolies, Kansas News Service

The Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley school districts on Monday joined at least five other school districts nationwide that have authorized lawsuits against the country’s leading e-cigarette maker, Juul Labs.

Both districts approved resolutions seeking damages they claim they’ve incurred as a result of students’ use of the devices.

“If they don’t vape on a regular basis they feel intense cravings, anxiety, jitteriness and they’re really finding it a challenge,” said David Smith, a spokesman for the Shawnee Mission School District.

Last week the Olathe School District, as well as school districts in Concordia, Kansas; St. Charles County, Missouri; and Long Island, New York, sued Juul, claiming the company deliberately targets school-age kids in its marketing campaigns and misleads them about the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping.

The Goddard School District in Goddard, Kansas, has also authorized a lawsuit against Juul, but that suit has not been filed yet.

As of last week, 1,299 lung injury cases linked to vaping had been reported nationwide, including 26 deaths in 21 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two of the deaths were in Kansas and one was in Missouri.

It’s not clear what’s causing the illnesses and deaths, although the majority of cases involve patients using products containing THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

The CDC says that THC-containing products, particularly those obtained off the street or from family members and other informal sources, appear to be playing a major role in the outbreak. At the same time, the agency says that “the possibility that nicotine-containing products play a role in this outbreak cannot be excluded.”

Juul, for its part, says that it does not target youth in its marketing campaigns and that its products are a viable alternative to cigarettes.

Juul is the dominant e-cigarette maker in the country, with an estimated two-thirds of the market. Cigarette giant Altria acquired a 35 percent stake in Juul last year in a deal valued at $12.8 billion.

The Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley lawsuits are expected to mirror the ones filed by Olathe and the other school districts, which allege they have been forced to divert money, time and resources to deal with a vaping epidemic among students.

Kirk Goza, one of the lawyers representing the school districts, told KCUR on Tuesday that districts have been forced to allocate resources to install sensors to detect vaping and to create new counselor and nursing positions to deal with the problems of addiction.

Goza said as many as one out of four or five junior high and high school students vape.

“At the end we want to rectify this problem, and that’s going to be one that requires a number of components including education, treatment and stricter controls,” Goza said.

In a related development, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday signed an executive order directing state health officials to launch a campaign to educate kids on the potentially negative health effects of vaping and to deter kids from using them.

Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to kcur.org.
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Home playoff berth, possible title tie on line for KCKCC Sunday

Kayla Deaver (KCKCC photo)

by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC

Kansas City Kansas Community College’s women’s soccer season comes down to a dramatic showdown against Coffeyville Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.

On the line: Holding KCKCC’s first ever NJCAA DII Region VI playoff game and a possible first place tie in the Jayhawk Conference race.

In second place in the Jayhawk after a 5-2 win at Allen County Wednesday, a win over Coffeyville would not only clinch a home playoff berth but it would put the Blue Devils (8-3) in position to tie Cowley College for the conference championship should Cowley (9-2) lose at Butler next Tuesday.

Conversely, a loss and two Butler (6-3-1) wins would drop KCKCC to third place and force a playoff opener on the road.

In Coffeyville, the Blue Devils will be facing one of the most dangerous teams in the conference. The Red Ravens (6-5) dealt the Blue Devils one of their three losses 5-3 at Coffeyville Sept. 25 and are coming off a 2-1 upset of Cowley last Saturday.

Meanwhile, KCKCC had to pull away in the second half for the 5-2 win over winless Allen County (0-10) Wednesday. Sophomore Kayla Deaver led the way with a three-goal “hat trick” and a pivotal assist.

KCKCC led 1-0 at halftime on a Tina Alvarez pass to Deaver, who scored from the top of the box.

Deaver scored again early in the second half on an assist from Maddy Broeker only to have Allen County pull even on the second of two goals by Dorothy Usher.

“Allen capitalized on two mistakes for the tie; it never should have happened,” KCKCC assistant coach Sara Matthews said.

Freshman Jaidyn Yingling put KCKCC back in front to stay with an assist from Deaver.

“Kayla Deaver put a ball in behind the defenders and in front of the keeper and Jaidyn took a great touch around the keeper to score,” Matthews said.

Deaver’s third goal came on an assist from Kayley Pederson.

“Kayley put a ball to the top left of the field and Kayla did her magic, chipping the ball around several defenders and then to the inside of the goalkeeper,” Matthews said.

Freshman Corrine Hughes wrapped up the win, scoring on a pass from Jaidyn Yingling.

In running their overall record to 11-3, the Blue Devils peppered the Allen goal with 16 shots with goalkeeper Phoenix Michaelis turning away 11. Meanwhile, the Red Devils managed only three shots on goal against KCKCC goalkeeper Jaidyn Takaishi.

“Overall, a win is a win but give credit to Allen County,” Matthews said. “They did not make it easy for the entire 90 minutes. We did what we do best which is to score goals, a lot of them. But we made critical and honestly, silly mistakes on the defensive end that Allen capitalized on. That just can’t happen. We have to tighten up heading into the playoffs.”

The Blue Devils played without sophomore centerback and team captain Sydney Guerra, held out as a precautionary measure.

“Having her back Sunday will help,” Matthews said.

UG Commission to meet tonight

The Unified Government Commission will meet at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, at City Hall, 701 N. 7th St., Kansas City, Kansas.

The 5 p.m. meeting will be in the fifth floor meeting room, and the 7 p.m. regular meeting will be in the Commission Chambers, lobby level.

On the agenda for the 5 p.m. meeting is a discussion on the UG long-range financial plan. Afterward there will be a closed executive session on the ninth floor about labor.

At the 7 p.m. meeting, a management agreement at the Village West baseball stadium is on the agenda. Several other items are on the agenda, which is posted at www.wycokck.org.