TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments April 7 over whether the state’s pre- or post-1999 punitive damages statutes applies to a wrongful death action brought by the widow of an Engle class member who developed cancer from smoking in 1994, died in 2007 and later won a $5 million punitive damages award that was reversed on appeal because it was awarded under the pre-1999 statute.
PHILADELPHIA — A cigar industry association and two cigar and tobacco manufacturers write in an April 2 appellee brief that the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals should affirm a district court’s ruling enjoining enforcement of the city of Philadelphia’s ordinance restricting the sales of flavored cigars and roll-your-own tobacco products because they say the court properly found that the ordinance is preempted by state law.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on March 22 gave the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration and their acting leaders until June 2 to respond to a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by vaping advocates who urge the high court to review the constitutionality of the FDA’s ratification of e-cigarette regulations that were first issued by an unconfirmed assistant commissioner.
SAN DIEGO — A California federal judge on March 29 issued two predominantly identical orders granting San Diego County’s motions to dismiss two challenges to its ordinance banning sales of flavored tobacco products, one brought by tobacco companies and the other by a retail association and a vape shop, ruling that San Diego’s ordinance is not preempted by federal laws regulating tobacco products.
SAN FRANCISCO — The California federal judge overseeing the multidistrict litigation against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. (JLI) and related entities issued a March 25 tentative ruling on several motions to dismiss indicating that he will not dismiss the bulk of the plaintiffs’ claims in their class action complaint, including claims for racketeering and violating California’s unfair competition law (UCL), but that he will dismiss state subclasses without a representative and state subclasses without separate complaints.
RICHMOND, Va. — A federal judge in Virginia on March 12 declined to dismiss the bulk of shareholders’ allegations in a putative securities class action against Altria Group Inc., e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. and the companies’ executives who the plaintiffs say concealed the regulatory and legal risks associated with Juul’s alleged youth marketing when Altria acquired 35 percent of the company in December 2018.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida appellate panel on March 11 affirmed a trial court’s award of more than $7.2 million in attorney fees to the estate of a deceased smoker that was previously awarded nearly $6.4 million in compensatory damages, but reversed the court’s award of $1.3 million in prejudgment interest on the attorney fees because the “time value of money” was already tacitly incorporated when the court used current hourly rates to calculate the fees.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A deceased smoker’s daughter told a Florida appellate panel during March 10 oral arguments that she is entitled to a new punitive damages trial because the trial court allowed a tobacco company to present mitigation evidence regarding its payments of more than $61 billion under the tobacco industry’s master and Florida settlement agreements.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Counsel representing two tobacco companies challenging a $37 million verdict in an Engle progeny case on March 9 told a Florida appellate panel that the verdict should be reversed and remanded for a new trial in light of the plaintiffs’ lawyers arguments at trial comparing tobacco companies to “Big Brother” and cigarettes to crack cocaine.
SAN FRANCISCO — A group of tobacco companies in a March 1 appellant brief tell the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that Los Angeles County’s ban on flavored tobacco products including menthol is expressly and impliedly preempted by federal law regulating tobacco products and urge it to reverse a district court’s ruling dismissing their challenge to the ban.
MIAMI — A Florida appellate panel on Feb. 17 affirmed a trial court’s award of nearly $3 million in attorney fees and costs plus interest for the legal team of a smoker’s widow who previously won $1 million in compensatory damages and has a punitive damages trial pending.
LAKELAND, Fla. — A Florida Second District Court of Appeal panel on March 3 affirmed a $3.75 million verdict for a deceased smoker’s children and wrote to certify conflict with a Fifth District decision that is awaiting review before the Florida Supreme Court on the issue of whether Florida’s pre-1999 punitive damages statute still applies in Engle cases where the decedent died after 1999.
TYLER, Texas — A federal judge in Texas on March 2 granted a motion filed by tobacco companies to extend the effective date of the Food and Drug Administration’s new graphic warnings rule for tobacco products to April 22, 2022.
MIAMI — A Florida appellate panel on Feb. 10 reversed a trial court’s grant of summary judgment to a tobacco company on a smoker’s liability and negligence claims because material issues of fact remain in dispute and remanded the case.
SAN FRANCISCO — The plaintiffs suing e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. (JLI) and related entities in a multidistrict litigation in a Feb. 26 brief urge a California federal judge to reject a defense motion to dismiss claims brought by 57 putative class representatives and 27 states who have not yet filed complaints, arguing that the motion is moot as the complaints are in preparation and accusing the defendants of refusing to compromise on deadlines.
PHILADELPHIA — The city of Philadelphia and the leader of its health department in a Feb. 24 appellant brief tell the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that a district court erred in enjoining enforcement of its ordinance restricting the sales of flavored cigars and roll-your-own tobacco products, arguing that the ordinance is not preempted by state law and that a cigar industry association and group of tobacco manufacturers challenging the ordinance failed to prove that it will cause them irreparable harm.
DENVER — A Colorado resident and group of discount cigarette manufacturers on Feb. 22 filed an agreed motion for voluntary dismissal without prejudice of their appeal before the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals challenging a district court’s denial of their motion for a preliminary injunction to block the state from hiking prices on cigarettes to a minimum of $7 per pack under a new law that took effect Jan. 1.
PORTLAND, Ore. — An Oregon jury on Feb. 19 found a tobacco company not liable for fraud in a lawsuit brought by a woman with terminal lung cancer and her husband who had claimed that tobacco companies concealed the risks of smoking. VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
ATLANTA — Two plaintiffs suing a lithium battery maker for injuries allegedly caused when batteries exploded in their ecigarette devices and burned them on Feb. 17 filed a joint reply brief in the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, contending that Georgia law does not require them to be in privity to the manufacturer to pursue a product liability action against it.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Food and Drug Administration and their acting leaders in a Feb. 12 appellee brief to the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals say that tobacco industry associations’ challenges to the FDA’s deeming rule regulating cigars and pipe tobacco products are meritless, that the associations are challenging statutory requirements imposed by Congress and that any errors in the implementation of the rule are not errors in the rule itself.