Raleigh County Commissioners have signed a resolution declaring that e-cigarettes are a public nuisance and have retained a lawyer to pursue a claim against the e-cigarette maker JUUL.
On Tuesday, November 16, Charleston, WV, based attorney Rusty Webb appeared before the commission to discuss the lawsuit against JUUL. According to Webb, he is part of a national lawsuit against the company.
“I know that, by way of history, Raleigh County is involved in the opioid lawsuits,” Webb said. “This JUUL lawsuit is identical in legal theory to the opioid cases. We are alleging that these companies, these tobacco companies, that create these e-cigarettes falsely marketed these vaping cigarettes as non-addictive and being more safe.”
He continued that West Virginia is leading the nation in child and teenage usage of e-cigarettes. As a result, Webb said that he would like to see the Raleigh County Commission and the Raleigh County Board of Education join together in the lawsuit against JUUL, as well as all county commissions and boards of education throughout the state.
He said the lawsuit would “abate” the problem. “In other words, you want money for the future for prevention, to get out pamphlets, to get out whatever help is needed to reduce this, what I am calling, the second epidemic in West Virginia because it is rampant in our state.”
He explained that the commission is charged nothing to participate in the lawsuit, but should JUUL be required to pay expenses, the commission would receive a contingency fee of about 33 percent.
Webb stated that, so far, Mercer, Hampshire and Gilmer counties and the Tucker County Board of Education have all passed this resolution and intend to pursue claims against JUUL.
With passage of the resolution, Raleigh County has agreed to be a part of Webb’s case.
In other Raleigh County business,
– Commissioners approved a grant consideration to cover the two-year salary of a peer recovery coach for the Raleigh County Day Report Center. The grant, if approved by the State of West Virginia, will amount to $96,735;
– Commissioners approved a grant consideration of the Byrne Grant from the Department of Justice for the Sheriff’s Department. The grant will provide $18,510 for rifle scopes and upgraded radar;
– Commissioners approved $5,000 for an Atlas County Redistricting Analysis and Mapping Proposal;
– Commissioners agreed to the purchase of five police cars for the Sheriff’s Department for the total cost of $193,105.
The next meeting of the Raleigh County Commission will be on Tuesday, December 7, at 10 a.m. at the Raleigh County Commission chambers in Beckley.