TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A North Carolina hookah distributor urges the Florida Supreme Court in a July 22 brief on jurisdiction to review an appellate panel’s decision affirming the state’s imposition of $1.2 million in tobacco product sales tax on the distributor, contending that the panel’s ruling creates conflicts with those of other Florida appellate courts by treating a statutory tax as a regulatory licensing fee.
TALAHASSEE, Fla. — Two tobacco companies on July 26 filed notice that it will seek the Florida Supreme Court’s review of an appellate panel’s affirmance of a $5 million award to a smoker’s widower in an Engle case, in which the panel heavily critiqued “egregiously improper closing arguments” by the widower’s counsel.
SAN FRANCISCO — The California federal judge overseeing the multidistrict litigation against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. (JLI) and related entities on July 22 denied the bulk of motions to dismiss pending bellwether personal injury claims, four of which are set to go to trial in 2022, but dismissed certain claims including state law claims falling outside the relevant statutes.
SAN FRANCISCO — The California federal judge overseeing the multidistrict litigation against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. (JLI) and related entities in a July 16 minute entry declined the plaintiffs’ request to consolidate pending bellwether personal injury trials that the plaintiffs had said would avert duplicative presentations of evidence but also wrote that the court may reconsider the issue after the bellwethers begin.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida appellate court on July 14 reversed a $10 million jury verdict against two tobacco companies and ordered a new trial after finding that an Engle plaintiff’s counsel made improper and inflammatory closing arguments, including comparing tobacco companies to Big Brother in George Orwell’s “1984” and calling them an “enterprise of death.”
SAN FRANCISCO — Several health groups argue in a July 7 brief filed in a California federal court opposing the government’s second motion to dismiss that their lawsuit seeking to compel the government to ban menthol cigarettes is not moot, writing that the court should order the government to commence rulemaking for a proposed menthol ban despite the Food and Drug Administration’s recent announcement that it plans to do so.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court on July 8 accepted jurisdiction over a certified question “of great public importance” regarding an appellate court’s reversal of a $16 million punitive damages award to a deceased smoker’s sister that was deemed excessive based on the punitive award’s ratio to the jury’s $300,000 compensatory damages award.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court on June 7 declined to accept jurisdiction over an appeal brought by a smoker’s widow who is suing a tobacco company in an Engle case and who sought review of an appellate panel’s affirmance of a directed verdict denying her the opportunity to pursue punitive damages.
PHILADELPHIA — A Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 23 heard oral arguments as the city of Philadelphia appeals a district court’s ruling enjoining enforcement of the city’s ordinance restricting sales of flavored cigars and roll-your-own tobacco products, which Philadelphia argues is targeted at adults and should not be preempted by an existing state law regulating youth access to tobacco products.
NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on June 25 entered an order discontinuing an action against a nonprofit foundation funded by a tobacco company that was brought by a former employee after the judge found that the parties have settled the former employees’ claims that she was subjected to retaliation and termination for complaining that the foundation was abusing its tax-exempt status and promoting teen e-cigarette use.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida appellate panel on June 30 reversed a $37 million judgment in an Engle progeny case against two tobacco companies and remanded the case for a new trial after finding that the plaintiffs’ lawyers made improper and inflammatory closing arguments, including comparing the companies to “Big Brother” from George Orwell’s “1984.”
SAN FRANCISCO — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 16 affirmed a district court’s dismissal of a tribal corporation’s challenge to California’s taxation and regulation of its intertribal cigarette sales for failure to state a claim and lack of jurisdiction, with one concurring judge writing separately to express “doubts” about whether the corporation qualifies as an Indian “tribe or band” entitled to federal jurisdiction.
DURHAM, N.C. — E-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. and North Carolina on June 28 submitted a proposed consent judgment to a state court under which Juul will pay the state $40 million over six years to resolve claims that it illegally marketed its products to youth and misrepresented the dangers of e-cigarettes. VIDEO FROM HEARING AVAILABLE.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 28 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari brought by a group of vaping businesses who contended that the government’s ratification of a deeming rule regulating vaping and e-cigarette products represented a violation of the appointments clause of the U.S. Constitution because the rule was improperly issued by an unconfirmed assistant commissioner.
MIAMI — A Florida appellate panel on June 23 affirmed a trial court’s denial of a motion for new trial in favor of a deceased smoker’s wife, finding no fundamental error in closing arguments on behalf of a tobacco company or in the trial court’s delivery of a curative instruction during jury deliberations prior to the jury’s finding that the smoker was not a member of the Engle class.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida appellate panel on June 23 denied two tobacco companies’ motion for rehearing en banc of the affirmance of a $5 million award to a smoker’s widower in which the court heavily critiqued “egregiously improper closing arguments” by plaintiff’s counsel without reversing but granted the companies’ motion for a revised written opinion that more explicitly addressed the standard for “harmless error.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 21 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari filed pro se by a smoker who challenged a district court’s dismissal on summary judgment of his design defect and failure-to-warn claims against tobacco companies for lack of causation evidence.
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — A Florida jury on June 14 awarded $2 million in punitive damages on top of a June 9 award of $540,000 in compensatory damages to the widow of a man who became addicted to cigarettes before the health risks of smoking were widely known and was unable to quit before his death in 2013. VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 7 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari brought by a vaping business and industry association that had argued that Congress violated the nondelegation doctrine by authorizing the Food and Drug Administration and secretary of Health and Human Services to deem e-cigarettes subject to regulation as tobacco products.
TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey federal judge in a two-page May 28 order said e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. (JLI) and an e-cigarette pod manufacturer may file a joint motion to permanently seal confidential materials in the record after they settled JLI’s trademark claims against the manufacturer; separately, the manufacturer on May 12 filed a notice of voluntary dismissal of its claims against JLI for fraudulent misrepresentation and trade libel in a California federal court.