WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 25 remanded a suit in which the United States alleged that several tobacco companies misled the public about the harmfulness of cigarettes to a district court with instructions to alter preambles the lower court had instructed tobacco companies to attach to a corrective statement about the harmfulness of smoking to cigarette packages and on websites of cigarette companies (United States of America, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 16-5101, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7225).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A jury in Florida on April 24 found for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in a suit in which a woman claimed that the tobacco company was responsible for her husband’s laryngeal cancer and subsequent death because it intentionally hid the dangers of smoking from him (Doris Shadd v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008CA038631, Fla. Cir., 15th Jud. Cir., Palm Beach Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida jury on April 21 awarded the widow of a smoker in a tobacco suit a total of $12 million in punitive damages, bringing the total award against a tobacco company to $15 million (Mary Lima v. R.J. Reynolds, et al., No. 2015CA007140, Fla. Cir., 13th Jud. Cir. Hillsborough Co.) VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
RENO, Nev. — A federal judge in Nevada on April 13 found that a cigar company that filed a counterclaim against the owner of several properties in Nevada failed to state a “cognizable” counterclaim in a suit where the property owner claimed that the cigar company failed to collect taxes on tobacco products as required by Nevada law (Wynn Las Vegas LLC v. Cigar Row LLC, No. 2:15-CV-01079, D. Nev., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56886).
DADE CITY, Fla. — A woman who sued on behalf of her mother who died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) settled with a tobacco company before the jury was scheduled to hear closing arguments in a suit where the plaintiff claimed that the tobacco company hid the dangers of smoking from her mother that led to her illness and death (Linda Bean v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2015-CA-000931, Fla. Cir., 6th Jud. Cir., Pasco Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
LAKELAND, Fla. — Recognizing that its ruling created a conflict with other appellate courts in Florida, a panel of the Second District Florida Court of Appeal on April 12 found that a trial court in an Engle progeny suit erred by reducing a compensatory award to a couple because a Florida statute governing negligence cases does not require compensatory awards to be reduced by the plaintiff’s comparative fault (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. Richard Boatright, et al., No. 2D15-622, Richard Boatright, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 2D15-1781, Fla. App. 2nd Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 5027).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue on April 3 filed a brief in Pennsylvania federal court supporting its motion to dismiss a suit over a tobacco tax, saying there is “no case or controversy to be decided” by the court (East Coast Vapor LLC v. Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, et al., No. 1:17-CV-0452, M.D. Pa.).
MIAMI — A Florida jury on April 6 awarded the widow of a man who developed lung cancer and coronary artery disease (CAD) and died because of his addiction to cigarettes $1 million in compensatory damages (Steffany Sommers v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 13-2008-CA-001464-0000-01, Fla. 11th Cir. Miami-Dade Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court on April 6 affirmed trial court’s judgment in favor of an Engle progeny plaintiff after answering a certified question from a lower appellate court finding that federal law does not preempt negligence and strict liability claims because those claims do not hinder the sale of cigarettes, but go after the tobacco companies for their conspiracy to hide the dangers of smoking from the public (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Phil J. Marotta, No. SC16-218, Fla. Super., 2017 Fla. LEXIS 744).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court on April 6 affirmed a trial court’s judgment in favor of an Engle progeny plaintiff after answering a certified question from a lower appellate court finding that federal law does not preempt negligence and strict liability claims because those claims do not hinder the sale of cigarettes, but go after the tobacco companies for their conspiracy to hide the dangers of smoking from the public (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Phil J. Marotta, No. SC16-218, Fla. Super., 2017 Fla. LEXIS 744).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — After a Florida jury awarded the husband of a woman who died from lung cancer related to cigarette smoking $3 million in compensatory damages on March 28, the attorneys for the widow and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on April 3 came to a confidential settlement over punitive damages before the jury had a chance to deliberate (James Whitmire v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2015-CA-002337, Fla. 2nd Jud. Cir. Leon Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A jury in Florida on March 31 found that three tobacco companies contributed to the addiction, lung cancer and death of a woman and awarded her husband $1.6 million in compensatory damages (Charles Santoro v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-CV-025807, Fla. 17th Jud. Cir. Broward Co.).
AUSTIN, Texas — On remand from the Texas Supreme Court, a state appellate panel on March 24 found that a tax enacted on nonparticipating manufacturers in a statewide tobacco settlement does not violate the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution and reversed summary judgment granted to the small tobacco companies (Glenn Hegar, et al. v. Texas Small Tobacco Coalition and Global Tobacco Inc., No. 03-13-00753-CV, Texas App., 3rd Dist., 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 2547).
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on March 24 found that United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) is liable and will owe damages to New York City and New York state for shipping untaxed cigarettes to unauthorized sellers (The State of New York, et al. v. United Parcel Service Inc., No. 15-cv-1136, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43495).
NEW YORK — The United States filed suit on March 15 in the U.S. Court of International Trade, claiming that a Florida tobacco product importer has not paid more than $800,000 in federal excise taxes (FET) (The United States v. Mariola International Company, No. 17-00047, U.S. Int. Trade).
NEW YORK — A New York justice refused to impose a heeding presumption in an asbestos trial in an opinion posted March 20, saying that absent evidence that a cigarette user who ignored tobacco warnings would have acted differently in the asbestos context, she would not impose such a standard (Donna Castorina, et al. v. A.C.&S., et al., No. 123077/01, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
FRESNO, Calif. — A judge properly admitted expert testimony that every identifiable exposure to asbestos contributes to mesothelioma, a California appeals court held March 17, while also rejecting challenges involving tobacco use and an award of punitive damages (Charity Faith Phillips, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. F070761, Calif. App., 5th Dist.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — ITG Brands on Feb. 17 sued Reynolds American Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJRT) (collectively the Reynolds defendants) in the Delaware Chancery Court, seeking an injunction that would force the Reynolds defendants to dismiss their complaint against ITG in Florida state court over the sale of four cigarette brands to ITG Brands in conjunction with the Reynolds defendants’ takeover of Lorillard Tobacco Co. ITG is seeking to resolve the claims in the Chancery Court (ITG Brands LLC v. Reynolds American Inc., et al., No. 2017-0129, Del. Chanc.).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on March 10 moved for a new trial in an Engle progeny suit that resulted in a $6 million verdict, saying that the plaintiff introduced surprising and previously undisclosed testimony that her deceased husband suffered a heart attack before Nov. 21, 1996, and that the jury form likely confused and misled the jury about the findings it was required to make regarding her husband’s membership in the Engle class (Blanche Fox v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 2008-CV-026348, Fla. 17th Jud. Cir. Broward Co.).
MIAMI — A Florida appellate panel on Feb. 22 affirmed a trial court’s grant of summary judgment to a tobacco company in an Engle progeny suit in an opinion without any explanation (Carmen Stagg v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co, et al., No. 3D16-157, Fla. App. 3rd Dist. Miami-Dade Co.).