Wenatchee Schools Join Lawsuit Against Social Media Companies
Wenatchee is now the latest Washington school district to join a class action law suit against social media companies.
The school board voted unanimously Tuesday night to join the suit organized by the Stevens Clay law firm.
Wenatchee School Superintendent Kory Kalahar says it focuses on damage to young people caused by social media companies.
“The lawsuit alleges that media groups such as Snatchat, Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook and others intentionally target youth to stay connected, and spend an inordinate amount of time on their devices,” said Kalahar.
Kalahar said it's similar to a successful lawsuit Wenatchee Schools joined against vaping company JUUL, which also claimed damage to young people.
Both class action suits claim school districts are harmed financially by having to respond to the harm done to students.
In addition, both lawsuits ask for monetary compensation.
Kalahar said Wenatchee schools is getting $140,000 from the JUUL suit before attorney fees are figured in.
He was quizzed Tuesday night by school board member Laura Jaecks about the benefits of the JUUL lawsuit.
Kalahar said it's not known exactly how much the district would actually be getting from the JUUL suit, but that it would be coming in through monthly installments. He said it's not known how the district will spend the money it gets from the lawsuit yet.
The litigation against the social media companies requires no upfront cost for the district to join, and, according to Kalahar, the contingency fee will be less than most lawyers charge for similar cases.
Wenatchee School Board members first heard about the class action suit against the social media companies during a February presentation by interim Superintendent Bill Eagle. Follow-up updates have come from Kalahar.
Wenatchee School Board member Martin Barron said the lawsuit is not air tight but worthwhile Tuesday night.
"It would specifically be practices that are detrimental to youth that cause school districts to spend money," said Barron. "And so, yes. I would see this as a long, highly speculative (suit) by its characteristics. I wouldn't bet on anything, but it doesn't seem unreasonable to join."
The Quincy School District joined the same lawsuit earlier this month.
Seattle Public Schools became the first district in the country in January to sue the tech giants operating Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Youtube, claiming they violated Washington’s public nuisance law and intentionally contributed to the youth mental health crisis in the state.