ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A Florida jury on Feb. 14 awarded a total of $5.4 million to a family after finding that two tobacco companies were responsible for a woman’s addiction to cigarettes, which led to her lung cancer and death (John Brown v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 15-002451-CI, Fla. 6th Jud. Cir. Pasco Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A widower of a woman who died from lung cancer filed suit in California state court on Feb. 8 against two tobacco companies, claiming that they knew about the dangers of smoking and did not warn the public about the dangers of smoking (Julian Engel v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 34-2017-00207704, Calif. Super., Sacramento Co.).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A man filed a product liability suit on Feb. 9 against a tobacco shop that sold him a vape and the makers of the vape and its parts after the device exploded and caused him to burn himself (Christopher Crowder v. Tobacco Expo, et al., No. RIC 1702394, Calif. Super., Riverside Co.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court on Feb. 7 stayed a case in which a jury awarded $5.7 million in compensatory damages and $11.6 million in punitive damages to the widow of a longtime smoker who alleged that his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer were caused by his addiction to cigarettes manufactured by Philip Morris USA Inc. (Vickie McKeever, etc. v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., No. SC17-198, Fla. Sup.).
CHICAGO — An Illinois judge on Jan. 20 found that a new tax Chicago imposed on tobacco products other than cigarettes violates an Illinois state law and granted partial summary judgment to a group of tobacco stores who sued the city (Iwan Ries & Co., et al. v. City of Chicago, et al., No. 2016-L-050356, Ill. Cir., Cook Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Feb. 8 remanded a false advertising suit against Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc. to a lower court after finding that it would be improper to consider the future brand value of its Natural American Spirit cigarettes when determining the cost of an injunction sought by an anti-smoking group and that the amount in controversy is not satisfied for federal jurisdiction (Breathe DC v. Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc., et al., No. 1:16-cv-2378, D. D.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17562).
SEBRING, Fla. — A Florida state jury on Feb. 8 rendered a verdict in favor of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in an Engle progeny trial after it found that a woman who was addicted to cigarettes knew or should have known that she had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by the Engle claim cutoff date (Angela Durance v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 11-26-GCS, Fla. 10th Jud. Cir., Highlands Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
LEXINGTON, Ky. — A federal judge in Kentucky on Feb. 6 signed a final order canceling a trial scheduled for March following an $81,308.71 settlement between a group of Mexican migrant workers who claimed that the owners of farms they worked at underpaid them and violated federal labor laws (Cecillo Gutierrez-Morales, et al. v. Earl Lee Planck Jr., et al., No. 5:15-cv-158, E.D. Ky.).
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal magistrate judge in Kentucky on Feb. 3 found that the owners of a tobacco farm who were sued for allegedly violating federal work visa laws will not face an undue hardship by having to depose a group of migrant workers in Mexico, denying the owners’ motion for a protective order that would prohibit the depositions from taking place in Mexico (Martin Rico Murillo, et al. v. Tracy Dillard, et al., No. 1:15-CV-00069, W.D. Ky., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15391).
CHICAGO — A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 30 found that an Indiana law that regulates the manufacturing and distribution of vapor pens and liquids used in e-cigarettes violates the dormant commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, reversing a grant of summary judgment to the state and remanding to the trial court with instructions to declare the challenged provisions of the law unenforceable against out-of-state manufacturers (Legato Vapors LLC, et al. v. David Cook, et al., No. 16-3071, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 1598).
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A federal judge in New York on Jan. 23 granted summary judgment to a group of government officials and dismissed the complaints brought by two Native American nations with prejudice after finding that an amendment to a tax on Native American-made cigarettes does not violate the tribes’ right to tribal sovereignty (Seneca Nation of Indians, et al. v. David Patterson, et al., No. 1:10-cv-00687, W.D. N.Y.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9060).
SEATTLE — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 13 vacated a district court’s order granting summary judgment to the federal government and remanded a suit brought by a Native American tribe over tobacco taxes with directions to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the claims brought by the tribe are barred by the Anti-Injunction Act (Confederated Tribes And Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation v. Alcohol and Trade Tobacco Bureau, et al., No. 14-35165, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 22103).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Two tobacco companies on Jan. 4 notified a Florida appellate court that they would be jointly appealing a $10 million verdict in an Engle progeny suit, saying the trial court erred by failing to grant their post-trial motions for a new trial and for a directed verdict (Philip Morris, et al. v. Mary Howles, 4D17-31, Fla. App., 4th Dist.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A electronic cigarette wholesaler and vaping store in Pennsylvania on Dec. 22 filed a petition in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court for injunctive relief from a new tax on e-cigarettes and e-cigarette parts and declaratory judgment to clarify what items are taxable under the new law (Kingdom Vapor, et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, No. 697-MD-2016, Pa. Cmwlth.).
RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Supreme Court on Dec. 21 found that a trial court was right to certify a class of farmers who were members of a tobacco cooperative and alleged that it expelled them and used money they helped to generate after finding that there was not a conflict of interest between one of the class representatives and the rest of the plaintiff class and that nothing in North Carolina law precludes class certification (Kaye W. Fisher, et al. v. Flue-Cured Tobacco Cooperative Stabilization Corporation, No. 374A14, N.C. Sup.; 2016 N.C. LEXIS 1120).
NEW YORK — The United States on Jan. 14 filed suit against a cigar manufacturer in New York federal court, alleging that the company failed to make payments after a civil fine was imposed against it under a law that was created to transition the tobacco industry to a free market (United States of America v. La Casa Grande Tobacco Corporation, No. 17-CV-225, S.D. N.Y.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc. on Jan. 11 told a federal judge in the District of Columbia that a deceptive marketing suit against it should stay in federal court, arguing that the cost of complying with the injunctive relief sought exceeds the $75,000 threshold regardless of whether the court finds that the named plaintiff, Breathe DC, is the only plaintiff or finds that there are multiple plaintiffs (Breathe DC v. Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc., et al., No. 1:16-cv-2378, D. D.C.).
TAMPA, Fla. — The daughter of a woman who died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) filed suit against three tobacco companies in Florida state court on Jan. 10 pursuant to the Engle findings (Angelia Garrett v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., et al., No. 17-CA-000242, Fla. Cir. Hillsborough Co.).
ATLANTA — A Native American-owned tobacco company on Jan. 9 dismissed its suit in Georgia federal court against a cigarette distributor that sold expired cigarettes to retailers without the manufacturer’s permission after the parties agreed to a confidential settlement (Grand River Enterprises Six Nations LTD., et al. v. National Distributors Inc., et al., No 1:16-cv-423, N.D. Ga.).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A Florida appellate panel on Jan. 4 found that a trial court erred in not reducing the compensatory award by the comparative fault the jury found in an Engle progeny suit brought by a man whose wife died from lung cancer related to her smoking (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Jan Grossman, No. 4D13-3949, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 50).