MONMOUTH — The Regional School Unit 2 board of directors has voted to join a mass action lawsuit against a California-based e-cigarette manufacturer.

The RSU 2 board heard a presentation last Thursday from William Shinoff of the San Diego-based Frantz Law Group about the lawsuit against Juul Labs Inc. The lawsuit targets Juul’s vaping and e-cigarette products and advertisements reportedly aimed at young people.

Shinoff told board members there was no cost to join the lawsuit. The only requirement, he said, is the school district must complete a survey about its experience with students and Juul’s products.

If the lawsuit were successful, schools that signed on would receive funds to help address student vaping. The lawsuit is expected to be heard in court in March 2022.

Maine Administrate School District 11 joined the lawsuit in mid-June, along with nine others in Maine and 289 school districts nationwide.

Not all RSU 2 board members supported joining the lawsuit.

“I’m not an advocate for vaping, but there is an obesity epidemic. Why don’t we sue McDonald’s? McDonald’s is all over the state,” board member Russ Hughes said to Shinoff. “Why don’t we sue tobacco? Why don’t we sue a lot of things that cause damage, and not just single out vaping?”

Shinoff said the lawsuit is based largely on the advertising — presented by Juul and other companies — that targets young students.

“McDonald’s isn’t hiding that the food is unhealthy,” he said. “These (e-cigarette) companies target children and do not tell them the harm. The Juul pod is equivalent to two packs of cigarettes, and they can do that in 30 minutes. There is a high rate of addiction. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be taxpayer’s money to deal with it.”

Ultimately, the RSU 2 board voted 7-4 to join the lawsuit, with Jeffrey Bickford, Mark Pearson, Dawn Gallagher and Kathryn Marseglia voting in opposition.

Gallagher said she would have liked more information in her school board packet for the meeting to help her make a better-informed vote. The other board members did not provide reasons for their opposition to joining the lawsuit.

Thursday’s board meeting came with some challenges, as the RSU 2 board began its transition back to in-person meetings instead of relying on Zoom. Most of the board members attended in person and in front of a small audience at Monmouth Memorial School, while Gallagher, Hughes and Pearson attended virtually through Zoom.

There were audio difficulties at the meeting’s outset, making it challenging to hear conversation, although things improved as the meeting proceeded.

In other matters:

• Board members voted unanimously to reelect Jonathan Hamann as chair and Leanne Burnham as vice chair.

• RSU 2 Superintendent Tonya Arnold said Monmouth would be raising funds for a new scoreboard. She did not have more details about the device or efforts to help pay for it.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.