ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A Florida jury will consider punitive damages against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) after awarding $2.75 million in compensatory damages to a smoker’s widow on Feb. 14, according to sources (Duignan v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 13-010978-CI, Fla. Cir., 6th Jud. Cir.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida jury on Feb. 12 returned a defense verdict for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. after hearing from the company that the smoker was surrounded by warnings and had full knowledge of the dangers but chose to continue smoking anyway (Edward Richter, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds, No. 2008-CA-038-650, Fla. Cir., Palm Beach Co.). VIDEO OF THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A tobacco company choose to conceal known dangers about its products, a lawyer for the estate of a former smoker told a Florida jury Feb. 4. But arguing for the company, its attorney said the man was able to smoke when he wanted to (Snyder v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008-CV-019467, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud. Cir.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
SAN FRANCISCO — At least six new lawsuits were filed against Juul Labs Inc. in January and February, all alleging that the e-cigarette giant illegally and deceptively marketed its products to youths while concealing the health risks.
MIAMI — A Florida judge on Jan. 24 declared a mistrial after a jury told him that it was deadlocked in a World War II veteran’s tobacco case, sources told Mealey Publications (Leo Yount v. R.J. Reynolds, No. 2007CA030346, Fla. Cir., Dade Co.).
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Attorney General Letitia James on Jan. 31 filed notice of appeal to the Third Department Supreme Court Appellate Division of an Albany County Supreme Court justice’s order striking down the state’s emergency ban on the manufacture and sale of flavored e-liquids for use in e-products and vaping, which the justice held was outside the authority of the executive branch (Vapor Technology Association, et al. v. Andrew Cuomo, et al., No. 906514-19, N.Y. Sup., Albany Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy on Feb. 5 released an update on the committee’s e-cigarette investigation, stating that Juul Labs Inc. (JLI) said that it may reintroduce “kid-friendly” flavors in the future and may be making claims about its devices’ “safety and efficacy without the legal authorization to do so.”
CHICAGO — An Illinois federal judge on Jan. 28 remanded a lawsuit filed by a former smoker against three tobacco companies and Walgreen Co. to state court, holding that the Illinois-based pharmacy chain was not fraudulently joined, as it is alleged to have known more about the risks of cigarettes than the general public and its presence destroyed federal jurisdiction (Gina Andersen v. Phillip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 19-5812, N.D. Ill., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13664).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald J. Trump’s 2021 federal budget released Feb. 10 by the Office of Management and Budget includes a proposal to remove regulatory authority over tobacco products from the Food and Drug Administration to a new agency under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Indian wholesale tobacco company in New York asks the U.S. Supreme Court to review a California appeals court holding that the state has jurisdiction to regulate the company’s sales to a tribe in California in a petition for certiorari docketed Feb. 6 (Native Wholesale Supply Company v. People of California ex rel. Xavier Becerra, No. 19-985, U.S. Sup., 2020 U.S. S. CT. BRIEFS LEXIS 450).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPDML) on Feb. 4 denied a motion by the state of Illinois to vacate the order conditionally transferring its case into the Juul Labs Inc. multidistrict litigation, holding that Illinois’ “sovereignty concerns were not persuasive” (In Re: Juul Labs, Inc., Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, No. 2913, JPMDL).
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on Feb. 4 ruled that lead plaintiffs in a securities class action lawsuit alleging that tobacco company Philip Morris International Inc. and several of its senior executives misrepresented clinical study results for an e-cigarette product it manufactured, as well as the product’s financial performance in Japan, failed to plead any false or misleading statements made by the defendants or scienter in pleading their federal securities law claims (In re Philip Morris International Inc. Securities Litigation, No. 18-8049, S.D. N.Y.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida jury on Jan. 31 confronted the question of whether a man used cigarettes because of tobacco company conduct or because of his own desire to smoke as lawyers delivered opening statements in a Florida tobacco trial (Edward Richter, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds, No. 2008-CA-038-650, Fla. Cir., Palm Beach Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bipartisan group of six U.S. senators on Jan. 22 introduced S.B. 3223, the Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act, which proposes a user fee to be levied on e-cigarette manufacturers to fund federal oversight of the industry, as well as prevention and youth awareness programs.
RICHMOND, Va. — U.S. government agencies argue in a Jan. 23 brief to the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that ongoing challenges to a 2019 federal court ruling setting new deadlines for premarket applications for e-cigarettes and other tobacco products, filed by vaping and cigar industry associations and businesses, have been rendered moot by new Food and Drug Administration regulations issued in January that advanced some deadlines to February and further contend that these regulations are within the agency’s administrative purview and thus not subject to judicial review (In re: Cigar Association Of America, et al., No. 19-2130, 4th Cir.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— A smoker’s widower argues in a Jan. 17 appeal brief to the Florida Supreme Court that an appellate court’s ruling reversing a $7.1 million verdict due to missing the state statute of repose and ordering a new trial on negligence and strict liability claims conflicts with multiple other Florida Supreme Court and appellate court rulings (Michael Gentile, etc. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 19-2124, Fla. Sup., 2019 Fla. LEXIS 2449).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A health-focused nonprofit on Jan. 17 filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against Juul Labs Inc. in the District of Columbia Superior Court accusing the e-cigarette maker of misleading its customers by concealing the nicotine level of its products, which it claims can, in a single pod, contain as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes (Breathe DC v Juul Labs, Inc., No. 20-0426, D.C. Sup.).
RICHMOND, Va. — Tobacco manufacturer Altria Group Inc. on Jan. 29 said it recorded a $4.1 billion fourth-quarter, non-cash pre-tax charge related to its minority ownership of vaping manufacturer Juul Labs Inc. due to growing litigation against Juul.
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.