New Castle County Vocational Technical District will receive $113,016 as part of Delaware’s $8 million share of the settlement of a national lawsuit against JUUL Labs, an electric cigarette company.
Delaware school districts in recent months have been holding executive meetings to discuss the settlement, but declining to say anything about it in public. The suit was settled in September 2022.
New Castle County Vo-Tech’s board may have been the first in the state to publicly announce its portion of the settlement when it did so Monday night.
“We can expect to receive about $82,000 after court costs and legal fees,” said Sean Sokolowski, the district’s business director. “By agreeing to the settlement, the district would be releasing all claims in this matter, but the attorney has reviewed the documents and recommends that we agree to this.”
JUUL Labs and 34 states and territories reached an agreement after a two-year investigation into the company’s marketing and sales practices, which were said to prey on children and teenagers.
Delaware will receive between $7.8 million and $8.5 million.
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The amount each district receives seems to be based on district enrollment, although no district has released the actual formula publicly. The number of elementary school students seems to count more than the number of middle school and high school students.
The majority of Vo-Tech students are in high school.
Jose Matthews, a board member for Red Clay Consolidated School District, said boards are limited in their ability to comment.
Other than New Castle County Vo-Tech, no district board has spent more than a minute or two discussing it in public session, usually to report the board agreeing to what their attorneys recommended.
“The board could have rejected the agreement and submitted a lawsuit of their own,” Matthews said, “but it would have been at the expense of taxpayers and a hefty expense that taxpayers shouldn’t have to bear, not to mention the risk of losing tax payer money and irreplaceable school funding.”
In addition to the financial terms, the settlement forces JUUL to change its marketing and sales strategies.
JUUL is barred from youth marketing, funding education programs, depicting people under 35 in marketing, using cartoons, using paid product placement, selling certain flavors, advertising on public transportation, hiring paid influences, giving away free samples and more.
According to the state, districts took about a month to finalize the settlement documents, which means most, if not all, districts have their settlement amount, but are not disclosing that information to the public.
The money will be distributed to districts as JUUL pays over the next six to 10 years, according to the Delaware Department of Justice.
If the company chooses to do it over a decade, the value of the national settlement will rise by about $40 million, meaning all the plaintiffs will get more money.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz and on LinkedIn
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