TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey federal judge in a two-page May 28 order said e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. (JLI) and an e-cigarette pod manufacturer may file a joint motion to permanently seal confidential materials in the record after they settled JLI’s trademark claims against the manufacturer; separately, the manufacturer on May 12 filed a notice of voluntary dismissal of its claims against JLI for fraudulent misrepresentation and trade libel in a California federal court.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration and their respective leaders urge the U.S. Supreme Court in a June 2 opposition brief not to grant a petition for certiorari brought by a group of vaping businesses, arguing that their challenge to the ratification of vaping regulations issued by an unconfirmed assistant commissioner does not conflict with any court ruling or involve a serious constitutional question.
SAN FRANCISCO — Health groups seeking to compel government agencies to ban menthol filed a May 21 supplement to their second amended complaint in a California federal court, arguing that the Food and Drug Administration’s recent announcement of plans to pursue a ban of all menthol flavored tobacco products is insufficient and that judicial action is still needed to ensure that the agencies begin rule-making to ban menthol.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court during oral argument on June 2 questioned attorneys representing the estate of a deceased smoker whose $6.4 million compensatory damages award was reversed on appeal and a tobacco company about whether the trial court’s jury instructions regarding standards for detrimental reliance on tobacco company statements on Engle fraud claims were proper or if the court should reconsider Engle.
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Counsel for the widow of a deceased smoker told a Florida jury during May 24 opening statements in her wrongful death trial against a tobacco company that her husband became addicted to cigarettes before the health risks of smoking were widely known but was too addicted to quit after falling ill. VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
QUINCY, Fla. — A Florida jury on May 24 awarded a smoker who suffers from emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) nearly $3 million after trial and found the defendant tobacco company 100% at fault for the smoker’s defective product and negligence claims. VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
TEXARKANA, Texas — The state of Texas and three tobacco companies on May 26 filed a notice of settlement in a Texas federal court resolving a dispute over liabilities to the state under its 1998 settlement with the tobacco industry, under which a new company will become a party to the settlement going forward and the companies collectively will pay Texas more than $200 million to resolve settlement liabilities dating back to 2015.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Counsel for an Engle progeny plaintiff who was awarded $10 million for her mother’s death told a Florida appellate court at oral arguments on May 25 that he did not “flout” the court’s standards in his closing arguments that two tobacco companies argue on appeal were improper and said his arguments were appropriate under the court’s precedents at the time they were delivered.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A tobacco company tells the Florida Supreme Court in a May 21 brief that it should not review an appellate court’s reversal of a $16 million punitive damages award to a deceased smoker’s sister that was deemed excessive in comparison to the jury’s $300,000 compensatory damages award even though the panel certified the case as presenting a question of great public importance because the company says the award is prohibited by state and federal law.
SAN FRANCISCO — Health groups who filed a lawsuit seeking to compel government agencies to ban menthol write in a May 18 joint case management statement that the action is not moot despite the Food and Drug Administration’s recent announcement that it intends to pursue a ban of all menthol flavor tobacco products, while the government says the case should be dismissed.
ST. LOUIS — An Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 12 hearing a group of tobacco manufacturers and retailers’ challenge to a Minnesota city’s ordinance banning the sale of all flavored tobacco products questioned whether the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (TCA) preempts municipalities from enacting such ordinances to the extent that states “cannot prohibit anything.”
SAN FRANCISCO — Los Angeles County and its board of supervisor in a May 7 brief urge the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to affirm a district court’s ruling that the county’s ban on flavored tobacco products is not preempted by federal law and does not obstruct federal regulatory goals as it says is shown by the Food and Drug Administration’s recent announcement of plans to ban menthol flavored tobacco products and all flavored cigars.
SAN FRANCISCO — Health groups that filed a lawsuit seeking to compel government agencies to ban menthol are due by May 18 to submit a joint case management update with counsel for the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and their respective leaders regarding the litigation, just weeks after the FDA announced that it now agrees with the plaintiffs and intends to pursue a ban of all menthol flavor tobacco products, as well as all flavored cigars.
MIAMI — R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) argues in a May 6 answer brief on jurisdiction to the Florida Supreme Court that the court should not hear a smoker’s widow’s appeal of an appellate panel’s affirmance of a directed verdict which RJR says did not create conflict and was proper in light of the trial court’s jury instructions regarding the burden of proof for punitive damages that the widow failed to satisfy.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel during oral arguments on May 7 questioned whether provisions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (TCA) that require all tobacco manufacturers to pay fees to fund regulatory activities but exempt e-cigarette manufacturers are ambiguous.
NEW YORK — A nonprofit foundation funded by a tobacco company on May 5 moved in a New York federal court for dismissal of a former employee’s claims that she was retaliated against and terminated for making protected whistleblower complaints to superiors regarding her belief that the foundation’s strategies were promoting teen e-cigarette use and that the nonprofit was abusing its tax-exempt status by engaging in such activities.
BOSTON — Counsel for a tobacco company told the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court at oral argument on May 3 that under res judicata, a smoker’s widow awarded $21 million in a wrongful death action should have been barred from seeking punitive damages for her breach of warranty claim because a similar claim brought on behalf of Massachusetts residents was resolved by a 1998 Master Settlement Agreement that the state’s attorney general entered into with tobacco companies.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services and their respective secretaries urge the U.S. Supreme Court in an April 28 brief to deny a petition challenging the agencies’ deeming of e-cigarettes as regulated tobacco products, arguing that Congress did not violate the nondelegation doctrine by authorizing the HHS secretary and FDA to deem tobacco products because the underlying legislation contains “intelligible principles” guiding any such action.
PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania judge on April 6 enjoined the city of Philadelphia from enforcing a new ordinance that prohibits the sales of flavored vapes and restricts the sales of any e-cigarettes to adults-only establishments after finding the ordinance preempted by state law.
LOS ANGELES — A California Superior Court judge on April 16 ordered that a vape company pay $1.2 million in civil penalties for violating California tobacco laws and marketing its products to youth, writing that the penalty was appropriate because the company had violated the court’s earlier preliminary injunction and continued marketing tobacco products in ways that could be accessible to youth under the age of 21.