SAN FRANCISCO — Tobacco company Altria Group Inc. on June 22 moved for dismissal from bellwether complaints filed by six school districts and one county in the Juul multidistrict litigation, arguing that the plaintiffs fail to establish that Altria caused any of the alleged injuries because most of them occurred before Altria invested in Juul Labs Inc. in December 2018 (In Re: Juul Labs, Inc., Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2913, No. 19-md-2913, N.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Supreme Court guidance is required to cure a conflict among the courts created when a California appeals court incorrectly held that the state has personal jurisdiction to regulate the sale of cigarettes by an Indian tobacco company in California, the company argues in its June 23 reply brief (Native Wholesale Supply Company v. People of California ex rel. Xavier Becerra, No. 19-985, U.S. Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 25 affirmed a district court’s dismissal of a challenge to tobacco regulations brought by a vaping manufacturer and e-cigarette industry association after finding that the nondelegation principle in Article I of the U.S. Constitution was not violated by Congress’ authorization of the secretary of Health and Human Services to determine what tobacco products should be subject to regulation (Big Time Vapes, Inc., et al. v. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 19-60921, 5th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 19885).
RICHMOND, Va. — Cigar industry associations on June 18 petitioned the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc regarding their motion to intervene in a district court case concerning the Food and Drug Administration’s regulations for newly deemed tobacco products, arguing that the panel’s opinion affirming the denial of their motion created a circuit split regarding the timeliness of motions to intervene and will damage judicial efficiency (In re: Cigar Association Of America, et al., No. 19-2130, 4th Cir.).
LOS ANGELES — A vaping industry group in a complaint filed in a California federal court on June 7 argues that the city of Palmdale, Calif., wrongly banned e-cigarette flavors, including tobacco and menthol, and effectively banned all sales of e-cigarettes, while tobacco companies in a June 4 motion for a preliminary injunction argue that Los Angeles County’s ban on flavored tobacco products wrongly bans menthol cigarettes and flavored smokeless tobacco products (CA Smoke & Vape Association, Inc., et al. v. Palmdale, No. 20-5039; R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. Los Angeles, et al., No. 20-4880; C.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Food and Drug Administration and two government officials in a May 29 appellee brief to the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals defended the FDA’s 2016 deeming rule regulating e-cigarettes as properly ratified, properly issued and not in violation of the appointments clause of the U.S. Constitution or the First Amendment (Moose Jooce, et al. v. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 20-5048, D.C. Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Comparing her situation to that of famed tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand, a former employee of e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. claims in a complaint filed June 4 in a federal court in California that she and other Juul employees are illegally prevented from disclosing illegal and unethical business practices by Juul due to nondisclosure agreements Juul requires its employees to sign in violation of California law (Marcie Hamilton v. Juul Labs Inc., No. 20-3710, N.D. Calif.).
RICHMOND, Va. — E-cigarette industry groups on May 22 petitioned the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider its dismissal as moot of their appeal of a district court order setting premarket tobacco application (PTMA) deadlines for vaping products because they say the order was not mooted by subsequent Food and Drug Administration guidance regarding PMTAs (In re: Cigar Association Of America, et al., No. 19-2130, 4th Cir.).
NEW YORK — A Canadian First Nations-owned cigarette manufacturer in a June 1 appellant brief urges the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse the dismissal of its constitutional challenge to a Connecticut state regulation on cigarette sales, which it asserts is an irrational requirement that is “impossible” to comply with and that conflicts with applicable federal law by regulating commerce beyond the state’s borders (Grand River Enterprises Six Nations Ltd. v. John Biello, Acting Commissioner of Connecticut Department of Revenue Services, No. 20-1044, 2nd. Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA — E-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. on June 1 asked a Pennsylvania court to dismiss or stay the state attorney general’s lawsuit accusing it of illegally and deceptively marketing and advertising its products to youth as it asserts that those claims are preempted by federal law and the attorney general lacks standing to bring common-law tort claims on behalf of the states’ citizens (Pennsylvania v. Juul Labs Inc., No. 200200962, Pa. Comm. Pls., Philadelphia Co.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) in a May 26 jurisdictional answer brief urges the Florida Supreme Court to confirm a divided appellate panel’s reversal of a $6.4 million compensatory damages verdict for a smoker’s daughter due to the trial court not instructing the jury to find whether the decedent relied on fraudulent statements by RJR and asks that if the high court accepts jurisdiction, it also review RJR’s arguments against the use of Engle Phase I findings in establishing the conduct element of claims brought by Engle progeny plaintiffs (Linda Prentice v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, No. SC20-291, Fla. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Tobacco company Altria Group Inc. on May 29 moved to dismiss unfair competition and racketeering claims brought against it and its subsidiaries in a class action complaint filed in the multidistrict litigation against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc., in which Altria holds a 35 percent stake, arguing that the claims against it are impermissibly vague and that it had no involvement in Juul’s allegedly tortious conduct (In Re: Juul Labs, Inc., Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2913, No. 19-md-2913, N.D. Calif.).
SAN FRANCISCIO — E-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. on May 29 filed four motions challenging claims in the pending multidistrict litigation against it, seeking to dismiss all claims against it as preempted by Food and Drug Administration authority, to dismiss racketeering and state law claims against it for failure to state a claim, to dismiss 25 subclasses’ claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and to stay the MDL based on the FDA’s primary jurisdiction and pending premarket review of its products (In Re: Juul Labs, Inc., Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2913, No. 19-md-2913, N.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A California appeals court correctly held that the state has jurisdiction to regulate the sale of cigarettes by an Indian tobacco company in California, so review of the dispute by the U.S. Supreme Court is not needed, the state tells the high court in a June 5 response brief filed at the request of the court (Native Wholesale Supply Company v. People of California ex rel. Xavier Becerra, No. 19-985, U.S. Sup.).
MIAMI — A Florida appellate panel on June 3 found that a trial court properly excluded a past asbestos claim from the trial of a smoker’s widow who was awarded $2.4 million in damages and rejected challenges to the lower court’s denial of a motion for directed verdict and jury instructions regarding the reliance element of an Engle progeny fraud claim while certifying conflict with two recent appellate decisions on the issue (Philip Morris United States v. Brenda Chadwell, No. 3D19-239, Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2020 Fla. App. LEXIS 7653).
LANSING, Mich. — A Michigan appellate panel on May 21 affirmed a lower court’s preliminary injunction halting enforcement of an emergency statewide ban on sales of flavored vape products after agreeing with the lower court that vape businesses challenging the law would suffer irreparable harm if it were enforced and that the state would not be harmed by following public notice and hearing procedures before issuing new vaping regulations (Slis, et al. v. Michigan, et al., No. 351211, A Clean Cigarette Corporation v. Michigan, et al., No. 351212, Mich. App., 2020 Mich. App. LEXIS 3506).
TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington appellate panel on June 2 affirmed an injunction that blocked a county from imposing limits on vape shops offering e-liquid samples and tastings to customers and requiring the shops to install ventilation systems, finding that the county’s regulations were preempted by the state law governing the vaping industry (Anti-Smoking Alliance v. Tacoma-Pierce County Department of Health, et al., No. 52458-9, Wash. App., Div. 2, 2020 Wash. App. LEXIS 1529).
SAN FRANCISCO — The judge overseeing the Juul Labs Inc. multidistrict litigation on May 27 ordered the establishment of a two-tiered common benefit fee and expense fund in which plaintiffs’ counsel who agree to participate early will pay a 7 percent assessment on future judgments and those who agree to participate later will pay 10 percent (In Re: Juul Labs, Inc., Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2913, No. 19-md-2913, N.D. Calif.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The judge overseeing the Juul multidistrict litigation on May 26 denied a motion by the plaintiffs to amend their class complaint against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. and tobacco manufacturer Altria Group Inc. to include antitrust causes of action and ruled that pending antitrust class actions against Juul and Altria are not member cases of the MDL but may be related to the MDL for purposes of discovery (In Re: Juul Labs, Inc., Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2913, No. 19-md-2913, N.D. Calif.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The judge overseeing the multidistrict litigation against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on May 20 issued a joint order coordinating proceedings and discovery with California’s Judicial Council Coordinated Proceeding (JCCP) against Juul in the Los Angeles County Superior Court (In Re: Juul Labs, Inc., Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2913, No. 19-md-2913, N.D. Calif.).