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.).
MIAMI — A Florida appellate panel on Nov. 27 upheld a $1 million verdict for noneconomic damages against Philip Morris USA Inc. in an Engle progeny suit but partially reversed a trial court’s order as to a new trial on punitive damages, clearing the way for the widow of a longtime smoker to seek punitive damages for both intentional and nonintentional tort claims (Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Stefanny Sommers, etc., Nos. 3D18-908 & 3D18-228, Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 17898).
SALT LAKE CITY — A excess insurer on Dec. 2 filed an amended complaint against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. (JLI) seeking a Utah federal court’s declaration that a $5 million liability policy is null and void because of alleged misrepresentations made about the discontinuance of candy-flavored vaping pods and about class actions by injured users (Prime Insurance Company v. Juul Labs, Inc., No. 19-925, D. Utah).
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A Florida appellate panel on Dec. 6 affirmed a $13.5 million jury verdict against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., rejecting without discussion the tobacco company’s arguments that changes in witness testimony from deposition to trial and the judge’s jury instructions before the punitive damages phase constituted reversible error (Margaret Brown v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 5D18-1630, Fla. App., 5th Dist., 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 18125).
SAN FRANCISCO — A former executive for Juul Labs Inc. who alleges that he was fired for raising concerns about the company knowingly distributing 1 million contaminated tobacco pods must settle his claims through arbitration, the company tells a California federal judge in a Nov. 27 motion to compel arbitration (Siddharth Breja v. Juul Labs Inc., No. 19-7148, N.D. Calif.).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — A shareholder sued a manufacturer of cigarettes and smokeless products on Dec. 2 in New York federal court, alleging that the company and two of its senior executives violated federal securities laws by failing to conduct sufficient due diligence before making a nearly $13 billion investment in e-vapor products manufacturer JUUL Labs Inc. (Patrick F. Cipolla v. Altria Group Inc., et al., No. 19-6774, E.D. N.Y.).
The attorney general of New York on Nov. 19 sued Juul Labs Inc. (JLI) in a state court, alleging that the e-cigarette manufacturer violated state law in its marketing and sales of vaping products to minors, one day after the attorney general of California announced a similar lawsuit (Attorney General of New York v. Juul Labs Inc., No. N/A, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.; California v. Juul Labs, Inc, et al., No. RG19043543, Calif. Super., Alameda Co.).
MIAMI — A Florida jury on Nov. 12 added $27.5 million in punitive damages to a previous $15 million award for a woman’s tobacco-related lung cancer (Kenneth Gloger v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2011-CA-23377, Fla. Cir., Dade Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A Florida jury on Oct. 24 returned a defense verdict for cigarette manufacturer R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., sources told Mealey’s Publications (Helen Delancy v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008CA000067, Fla. 19th Dist., Martin Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. Judge William H. Orrick III of the Northern District of California on Nov. 8 named four lawyers to the interim leadership team for the multidistrict litigation against Juul Labs Inc, which alleges that an e-cigarette maker created an addictive product that is deceptively marketed to children (In Re: Juul Labs, Inc., No. 2913, JPMDL).
JACKSON, Miss. — A vaping company and manufacturer and a newly formed trade association on Nov. 13 rejected arguments from the Food and Drug Administration that the government can regulate e-cigarette products under the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act (TCA) and asked a federal court in Mississippi to grant a motion for preliminary injunction to prevent the FDA from taking any regulatory or enforcement action against them (Big Time Vapes Inc. and United States Vaping Association v. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 19-531, S.D. Miss.).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A Florida jury on Nov. 15 added $148 million in punitive damages, just a week after awarding $9.2 million in compensatory damages after hearing that the plaintiff wanted to quit smoking but that his addiction was so strong he kept using tobacco even after doctors diagnosed him with lung cancer and his disease left him needing oxygen to breathe, sources told Mealey Publications (Edward Caprio v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 2007-CV-036719, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
GREENSBORO, N.C. — An e-cigarette company facing charges of unfair and deceptive trade practices in a lawsuit filed by North Carolina did not present any reasonable basis for removing the case from state court, a federal judge ruled Nov. 7, remanding the case to state court and ordering the company to pay attorney fees (North Carolina v. Eonsmoke LLC, No. 19-987, M.D. N.C.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — The Delaware Supreme Court on Nov. 7 refused to consider an interlocutory appeal filed by a cigarette manufacturer, agreeing with a chancery court that the manufacturer’s “assertion of immediate and irreparable harm” if denied protection from a hypothetical equity fee statute in Florida “was overblown and speculative” (ITG Brands LLC v. Reynolds American Inc., et al., No. 453, 2019, Del. Sup.).
NEW YORK — A majority of a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Nov. 7 affirmed that United Parcel Service Inc. illegally shipped untaxed cigarettes from Native American smoke shops in New York but reduced the damages awarded to the state and New York City by $149 million (New York, et al. v. United Parcel Service, Inc., Nos. 17-1993, 17-2107 and 17-2111, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 33308).
NEW YORK — A panel of the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 7 reversed partial summary judgment rulings for a Washington state tribal tobacco company and against New York in the state’s efforts to stop the company from shipping untaxed cigarettes to reservation smoke shops in New York (New York v. Mountain Tobacco Company, et al., Nos. 17-3198 and 17-3222, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 33306).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A Florida jury on Nov. 7 awarded $9.2 million in compensatory damages in a tobacco case in which a man allegedly quit smoking but his addiction was so strong he kept smoking after doctors diagnosed him with lung cancer and his diseases left him needing oxygen to breathe. Phase two of the trial is expected to start in mid-November (Edward Caprio v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 2007-CV-036719, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud.).