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.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Oral arguments were held Dec. 10 in Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal in a dispute in which R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. maintains that eight “otherwise qualified” jurors were unfairly stricken for their opinion that smokers “bear some responsibility for their choices” (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Jacqueline Burgess, Personal Representative of the Estate of Johnny Burgess, No. 4D18-3014, Fla. App., 4th Dist.).
States and government officials continue to seek to combat the effects of e-cigarette use, particularly among minors, through litigation and legislative orders.
BOSTON — A Massachusetts jury heard ongoing testimony Dec 12 after being told by plaintiff in opening statements that tobacco companies designed their products to be addictive The two defendants told the jury that a man’s lung cancer likely did not arise from tobacco use and that they did not target minors (Jonathan Main v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 1684CV03883, Mass. Super., Suffolk Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A trial court erred in denying a tobacco company’s motion for directed verdict in a case that ultimately resulted in a $4 million jury verdict for the representative of a deceased smoker, a Florida appellate panel ruled Nov. 27, finding that the original suit, filed in the decedent’s name after he had died, was a legal “nullity” and that the representative’s amended complaint was time-barred under the statute of limitations (Philip Morris v. Jo E. Freeman, No. 1D18-2070, Fla. App., 1st Dis., 2019 Fla. App.LEXIS 17864).
LAKELAND, Fla. — A Florida appellate panel on Dec. 6 affirmed a $24 million verdict against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., rejecting the tobacco company’s arguments on appeal that the jury should have been instructed to determine whether the smoker suffered from a disease that would qualify him as a member of the Engle class and that the punitive damages were excessive (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Rosemarie C. Graffeo, No. 2D18-4007, Fla. App., 2nd Dist., 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 18175).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 10 rejected arguments by an e-cigarette manufacturer and an industry trade group that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration violated the Tobacco Control Act and infringed on their First Amendment rights by creating a difficult pathway to premarket authorization and prohibiting free sample distribution of vaping products (Nicopure Labs LLC and Right To Be Smoke-Free Coalition v. Food & Drug Administration, et al., No. 17-5196, D.C. Cir.).