MIAMI — After awarding $2.5 million on a man’s claim that addiction drove him to smoke cigarettes, a Florida jury on Jan. 16 awarded no punitive damages, sources told Mealey Publications (Sabrina Cuddihee v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 2008CA000398, Fla. Cir., Duval Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
MIAMI — A Florida jury on Jan. 10 heard opening statements where lawyers battled over whether a man smoked cigarettes fully aware of the dangers or whether those hazards were known only to the defendant and kept hidden from smokers (Leo Yount v. R.J. Reynolds, No. 2007CA030346, Fla. Cir., Dade Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
LEXINGTON, Ky. — A Kentucky federal judge on Jan. 16 granted a motion by government agencies to dismiss a lawsuit that a vaping industry trade association and one of its members filed to halt enforcement of a premarket tobacco applications deadline that the group claimed will destroy the e-cigarette industry (Vapor Technology Association, et al. v. U.S. Food And Drug Administration, et al., No 19-0330, E.D. Ky.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The widower of a smoker on Dec. 20 appealed to the Florida Supreme Court after a Florida appeals court reversed a $40.9 million jury verdict and ordered a new trial on the grounds that the trial court erred by blocking a tobacco company from challenging the smoker’s Engle class membership (Leslie Schlefstein, etc. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 19-2147, Fla. Sup.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Tobacco company Philip Morris USA Inc. on Jan. 6 filed notice that it is asking the Florida Supreme Court to review an appeals court’s November ruling in favor of a smoker’s widow that partially reversed a trial court and ordered a new trial on punitive damages for both intentional and nonintentional tort claims (Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Stefanny Sommers, etc., No. 20-19, Fla. Sup.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. argues in a Dec. 20 brief on jurisdiction that the Florida Supreme Court should not review an appellate court decision reversing a trial court’s order that it pay attorney fees to the widower of a longtime smoker in an Engle progeny case, saying the order was consistent with state Supreme Court precedent and Florida state law (James Lewis, etc. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 19-1374, Fla. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The California federal judge overseeing the Juul Labs Inc. multidistrict litigation asked the parties during a Jan. 13 in camera meeting to think about settlement discussions, according to minutes of a case management conference that followed (In Re: Juul Labs, Inc., Marketing, Sales Practices, And Products Liability Litigation, No. 19-2913, N.D. Calif.).
MIAMI — A Florida jury on Jan. 16 awarded a man $2.5 million after hearing that he would venture into the cold and rain to smoke and used cigarettes despite suffering from asthma. The jury is next considering punitive damages in the case (Guy Cuddihee v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 2008CA000398, Fla. Cir., Duval Co.) VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
MIAMI — A former Marine developed laryngeal cancer but never needed to because safer tobacco products existed, a lawyer told a jury during opening statements on Jan. 16. But Philip Morris USA Inc.’s counsel told the jury that there was no way the man could not have known of the dangers cigarettes posed (Ed Principe v. Philip Morris, No. 2017-CA-025772, Fla. Cir., Dade Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a Jan. 14 report identified e-cigarette products with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and from informal sources as a major factor in the 2,602 vaping-related injuries currently being reviewed as part of its multistate investigation into vaping-related illnesses. The agency renewed its recommendation that the public refrain from any use of vaping or e-cigarette products pending the conclusion of the investigation (“Update: Product, Substance-Use, and Demographic Characteristics of Hospitalized Patients in a Nationwide Outbreak of E-cigarette, or Vaping, Product Use-Associated Lung Injury” — United States, Aug. 2019-Jan. 2020, Mort. Mortal. Wkly. Rep. ePub, 14 Jan. 2020, S. Ellington, et al.).
SAN DIEGO — In a Jan. 7 filing in California state court, the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) became one of the latest school districts to sue Juul Labs Inc. for allegedly illegally marketing their e-cigarette products and flavored pods to minors; meanwhile, a Mississippi school district hit Juul with a class complaint in federal court a month earlier alleging Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act violations (San Diego Unified School District v. Juul Labs Inc., et al., No. 37-2020-00000935-CU-MT-CTL, Calif. Super., San Diego Co.; Jefferson County Public School District, et al. v. Juul Labs Inc., et al., No. 19-8265, N.D. Calif.).
PHOENIX — The attorney general of Arizona filed consumer fraud lawsuits on Jan. 7 in state court against Juul Labs Inc. for marketing e-cigarettes to youths, making Arizona the sixth state to sue Juul, and against Eonsmoke LLC, a New Jersey-based producer of vaping products, including flavored pods similar to those Juul has ceased producing (Arizona v. Juul Labs Inc., No. CV2020-000317, Arizona v. Eonsmoke LLC, No. CV2020-000318, Ariz. Super., Maricopa Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on Dec. 20 said the court will not relitigate the issue of whether tobacco companies must make “corrective statements” about their products in a 20-year-old RICO lawsuit but will instead require the United States and the tobacco companies to address how such statements will impact the rights of point-of-sale (POS) retailers (United States, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 99-2496, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 219390).
SAN FRANCISCO — An investor in e-cigarette maker JUUL Labs Inc. filed a shareholder derivative and minority shareholder class action lawsuit in California state court on Jan. 6, alleging that certain of the company’s current and former executive officers and directors have breached their fiduciary duty and were unjustly enriched at the expense of minority shareholders through their management of the company (Daniel Grove v. Adam Bowen, et al., No. CGC-20-582059, Calif. Super., San Francisco Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. Judge William H. Orrick III of the Northern District of California on Dec. 20 appointed co-lead counsel and steering committee members for the multidistrict litigation against Juul Labs Inc., which is accused of deceptively marketing its e-cigarette products to children (Bradley Colgate v. Juul Labs, Inc., No. 19-2913, N.D. Calif).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Jan. 2 announced a new policy that will prohibit the sale of some flavored e-cigarette products, including fruit and mint flavors, that it says are attractive to minors and have led to the “epidemic levels” of use among children.
TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida appellate panel on Dec. 27 reversed a lower court’s grant of a motion to set aside dismissal in an Engle progeny tobacco lawsuit that was originally dismissed due to the plaintiff’s failure to timely pay a transfer fee after venue was transferred, noting that another appellate panel had earlier affirmed the previous judge’s denial of the motion (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Thomas Howard, No. 2D19-267, Fla. App., 2nd Dist., 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 19199).
TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida appellate panel on Dec. 27 affirmed a $21 million judgment in an Engle progeny case against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc., rejecting the companies’ arguments that the trial court made “multiple evidentiary and instructional errors” (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Faye Theis, No. 2D18-3348, Fla. App., 2nd Dist., 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 19163).
LAKELAND, Fla. — The Second District Florida Court of Appeal on Dec. 18 reversed a defense verdict in favor of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and remanded the case for a new trial, saying the trial court erred in not directing a verdict in favor of the plaintiff on the tobacco company’s statute of limitations defense (Angela Sue Durrance v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2D17-2009, Fla. App., 2nd Dist., 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 10026).
BOSTON — A Massachusetts jury returned a defense verdict Dec. 20 in a case involving a man who developed lung cancer decades after he stopped using tobacco products (Jonathan Main v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 1684CV03883, Mass. Super., Suffolk Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.