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.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A former executive for Juul Labs Inc. who alleges that the company knowingly distributed 1 million contaminated tobacco pods sued the company on Oct. 29 in a California federal court after he says he was fired for raising concerns (Siddharth Breja v. Juul Lab Inc., No. 19-7148, N.D. Calif.).
LEXINGTON, Ky. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Oct. 11 urged a Kentucky federal court to deny a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by a vaping industry trade association and one of its members against the FDA’s enforcement of a premarket tobacco applications deadline that the group says will destroy the e-cigarette industry (Vapor Technology Association, et al. v. U.S. Food And Drug Administration, et al., No 19-0330, E.D. Ky.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A mother sued Juul Labs Inc. on Oct 15 in a California federal court, alleging that the e-cigarette manufacturer is responsible for the death of her 18-year-old son (Lisa Marie Vail v. Juul Labs Inc., No. 19-6597, N.D. Calif.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida appeals court on Oct. 24 reversed a $6.4 million verdict against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in a wrongful death case, finding that the trial court erred in instructing the jury on a conspiracy to commit fraudulent concealment claim (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Linda Prentice, No. 1D17-2104, Fla. App., 1st Dist.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A shareholder sued a distributor of e-cigarettes, vaporizers and accessories and products containing hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) and certain of its executive officers and directors in Florida federal court on Oct. 16, alleging that the defendants failed to disclose in offering documents for an initial public offering (IPO) a major initiative in the City of San Francisco that would severely impede the company’s business and financial success in offering documents in violation of federal securities laws (Randall Mayer v. Greenlane Holdings Inc., et al., No. 19-81411, S.D. Fla.).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Florida jury on Sept. 24 returned a defense verdict for tobacco company R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. after hearing that a man enjoyed smoking and never intended to quit. The jury found that cigarettes caused a man’s lung cancer but apportioned him 75 percent of the liability and awarded his estate no damages, sources told Mealey Publications (Robert Miller v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008-CA-000401, Fla. 4th Cir., Duval Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
BOSTON — A Massachusetts jury on Sept. 26 awarded a woman $9,685,414 after hearing that Philip Morris designed its marketing to lure children into becoming lifelong customers, sources told Mealey Publications (Patricia Greene v. Philip Morris, No. 1581CV01808, Mass. Super., Middlesex Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
MIAMI — A Florida jury on Sept. 24 awarded $1.35 million to a man who claimed that he began smoking as a result of tobacco company misrepresentations, sources told Mealey’s Publications (Jorge Del Real v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No 2007-CA-032909, Fla. Cir., Dade Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — During oral arguments Oct. 8 before a Florida appellate panel, a lawyer representing R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Inc. denied that a trial lawyer committed a “gotcha” move during closing arguments of a trial that resulted in a defense verdict that was later reversed by the trial court judge, with a new trial awarded (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Phyllis Jones, No. 4D18-1132, Fla. App., 4th Dist.).
Litigation over vaping and e-cigarette products continues to heat up as school districts sue e-cigarette manufactures for costs associated with their students using the products and industry groups and states battle over regulations to limit use.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Trade Commission on Oct. 4 ordered six e-cigarette manufacturers to hand over data related to the sales and marketing practices of their products by Jan. 2.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Based on the application of state case law, a trial court did not err in compelling the state of New Mexico to arbitrate its dispute with tobacco manufacturers over nonparticipating manufacturers’ (NPM) adjustment to the tobacco master settlement agreement (MSA), a New Mexico Court of Appeals panel affirmed Sept. 25 (Hector H. Balderas v. Philip Morris, USA, Inc., et al., No. A-1-CA-36199, N.M. App., 2019 N.M. App. Unpub. LEXIS 382).
CHICAGO — A man’s lawsuit that alleges that he contracted laryngeal cancer from smoking cigarettes is headed back to an Illinois state court after a federal judge ruled that cigarette manufacturer defendants failed to prove that the smoker fraudulently joined retailer defendants (Martin Smith v. Philip Morris Inc., et al., No. 18-06397, N.D. Ill., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169092).
TAMPA, Fla. — In a blow to Sream Inc., exclusive licensee of the “RooR” trademark, a federal judge in Florida on Oct. 7 found that only a registrant or its assignee has standing to sue for infringement (RooR International B.V., et al. v. Good Timez III LLC, et al., No. 19-439, M.D. Fla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173283).