TACOMA, Wash. — A man filed suit in Washington state court on July 18, claiming that a battery he bought for his e-cigarette was defective and blew up while in his pocket, which caused second-degree burns on his right leg (Nathan Holdener v. Green Lake Inc., No. 17-2-09949-5, Wash. Super., Pierce Co.).
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A federal judge in South Dakota on Aug. 9 denied a motion brought by a group of plaintiffs seeking to increase the amount of tobacco used in a religious mixture for Native American religious ceremonies in prison after finding that the amount the court already allowed was sufficient for religious ceremonies (Native American Council of Tribes, et al. v. Douglas Weber, et al., No. 4:09-CV-4182, D. S.D., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125754).
TRENTON, N.J. — In an unpublished opinion, a New Jersey Tax Court judge on Aug. 9 found that a cigar wholesaler is not immune from a state tax on tobacco because it did not keep adequate records showing that it sold tobacco to an out-of-state buyer (Cigar Stop Inc. v. Director of the Division of Taxation, No. 015587-2014, N.J. Tax, 2017 N.J. Tax Unpub. LEXIS 46).
CHICAGO — A candy company on July 13 filed suit in Illinois federal court against a tobacco shop, its holding company and its owner, claiming that the store has been using the candy company’s trademarks and putting them on e-cigarette flavors it sells without the candy company’s permission (WM. Wrigley Jr. Company v. Chi-Town Vapers LLC, et al., No. 17-CV-5185, N.D. Ill.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida appellate panel in an Aug. 3 opinion without explanation affirmed a $13 million verdict for the family of a deceased woman in an Engle progeny case (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Vivian Turner, No. 4D16-2625, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 11300).
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Aug. 10 found that a tobacco tax labeled as a “smoking cessation fee” is a revenue-raising tax because the money generated from it is being used to balance the state’s budget and, therefore, that it should be stricken in its entirety (James P. Naifeh, et al. v. State of Oklahoma, et al., No. 116102, Okla. Sup.).
CHICAGO — A federal judge in Illinois on Aug. 7 denied a motion to dismiss brought by a counterdefendant in a tobacco product trademark infringement suit after finding that the court had jurisdiction over the counterclaims because the counterdefendant, which is based in California, has done business in Illinois (Republic Technologies, et al. v. BBK Tobacco & Foods, No. 16-CV-3401, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124673).
DETROIT — A panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals on Aug. 1 reversed summary disposition for a tobacco seller and remanded the suit over the forfeiture and seizure of tobacco products to the trial court to determine if the forfeiture was proper (Value, Inc. v. Department of Treasury, No. 331581, Mich. App., 2017 Mich. App. LEXIS 1235).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A panel of the First District Florida Court of Appeal on July 24 affirmed a trial court’s decision to grant a new trial on noneconomic damages in an Engle progeny suit, but the panel split on reversing the trial court’s decision to grant a new trial on punitive damages (Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Micah Danielson, No. 1D16-234, Fla. App., 1st Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 10603).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — After finding that a man who died from laryngeal cancer was addicted to cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., a Florida jury on July 28 awarded his widow $4 million in damages (Bertie Thomas v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2007-CV-036432, Fla. 17th Jud. Cir. Broward Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida jury on July 25 found in favor of Philip Morris USA Inc. after finding that a man who died from lung cancer was not addicted to cigarettes made by Philip Morris and that his lung cancer and death was not caused by an addiction to those cigarettes (Judith Pearson v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 2007-CA-017823, Fla. 13th Jud. Cir. Hillsborough Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals majority on July 21 upheld a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rule that prohibits the use of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices on airplanes because the law banning the devices from planes benefits the health of the passengers (Competitive Enterprise Institute, et al. v. United States Department of Transportation, et al., No.16-1128, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 13112).
FORT MYERS, Fla. — In a retrial of an Engle progeny suit, a Florida jury on July 18 found that a woman’s lung cancer and death were caused by her addiction to cigarettes and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.’s failure to warn her about the dangers of smoking and awarded her husband $1.65 million (John Maloney v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 07-CA-015578, Fla. 20th Jud. Cir., Lee Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Office of Attorney General on July 7 filed suit against a Canadian tobacco company in California state court, claiming that the company illegally sold cigarettes in California and broke other state laws (People of the State of California v. Grand River Enterprises Six Nations LTD, No. 34-2017-00215131, Calif. Super., Sacramento Co.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida appellate panel on July 5 reversed a defense verdict for three tobacco companies in an Engle progeny suit after finding that the trial court erred in allowing a pulmonologist who was not qualified to testify on addiction to testify about the plaintiff’s motivation to quit smoking (Fannie Collar v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 4D15-3893, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 9637).
NEW YORK — A panel of the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 7 ordered a new trial on punitive damages only in a suit brought by a woman who claimed that a defect in her cigarettes caused her larynx cancer following a Connecticut Supreme Court decision that held that Connecticut’s common law rule, which limits punitive damages, does not apply to an award of statutory punitive damages (Barbara A. Izzarelli v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Nos. 11-3865, 113890, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12125).
MIAMI. — A federal judge in Florida on July 7 denied a glass-pipe maker’s motion for default judgment in a copyright infringement suit and dismissed the suit without prejudice after finding that the plaintiff “lacks standing to pursue its federal claims” and the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction (Sream Inc. v. Mayasam, Inc., No. 16-cv-24825, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106100).
LAKELAND, Fla. — A panel of the Second District Florida Court of Appeal on July 14 affirmed a $14 million verdict in an Engle progeny suit without explanation and certified a conflict with another suit over comparative fault (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. Ina E. Ahrens, No. 2D16-1651, Fla. App., 2nd Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 10146).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Two tobacco companies that were ordered to pay $32 million in damages following an Engle progeny suit petitioned the Florida Supreme Court on June 21 over a lower court ruling that they had to pay the plaintiffs’ attorney fees because the lower court’s decision created a conflict with the other state appellate courts (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. Richard Boatright, et al., No. SC17-897, Fla. Sup.).
ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands — A Virgin Islands judge on July 10 ordered the consolidation of two separate wrongful death suits against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. for trial because they present nearly identical issues of law against the same defendant (Jevon Gerald v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. ST-10-CV-631, Christian Brown v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. ST-10-CV-692, Virgin Islands Super., St. Thomas, 2017 V.I. LEXIS 102).