PHILADELPHIA — Two retail store industry associations and R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. filed a lawsuit on July 31 seeking to halt enforcement of an ordinance in Philadelphia that restricts the sale of electronic cigarettes to store that are licensed as "adults-only" establishments and bans the sale of flavored e-cigarettes as the plaintiffs write that the ordinance is preempted and superseded by two Pennsylvania statutes (Asian American Licensed Beverage Association of Philadelphia, et al. v Philadelphia, No. 200702307, Pa. Comm. Pls., Philadelphia Co.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court on Aug. 11 and 13 accepted jurisdiction over two Engle progeny cases, one in which a smoker's widow challenges the reversal of a $5 million punitive damages award and the other in which a plaintiff challenges the reversal of a $6.4 million compensatory award for lack of individualized detrimental evidence (Mary E. Sheffield v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. SC19-601; Linda Prentice v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, No. SC20-291, Fla. Sup.).
LOS ANGELES — A California federal judge on Aug. 7 entered orders in two separate actions granting Los Angeles County's motions to dismiss challenges to its ordinance banning the sale of flavored tobacco products within the county, one brought by tobacco companies and the other brought by a vaping industry association and vape shop (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. Los Angeles, et al., No. 20-4880, C.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141961; CA Smoke & Vape Association, Inc., et al. v. Los Angeles, et al., No. 20-4065, C.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141962).
PHOENIX — An Arizona state court judge on July 27 issued a default judgment against New Jersey-based producer of vaping products and flavored pods Eonsmoke LLC and ordered the company to pay the state of Arizona $22.5 million to resolve the state attorney general's consumer fraud lawsuit against it, including nearly $22 million in civil penalties (Arizona v. Eonsmoke LLC, No. CV2020-000318, Ariz. Super., Maricopa Co.).
MIAMI — A Florida appellate panel on Aug. 5 affirmed a trial court's granting of a tobacco company's motion for a directed verdict in a smoker's widow's suit seeking punitive damages for non-intentional tort claims, finding that the widow did not present sufficient evidence showing that her product liability claims and her husband's death from COPD were directly caused by R.J. Reynolds' misconduct (Joyce Hardin v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 3D18-0958, Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2020 Fla. App. LEXIS 11123).
PALO ALTO, Calif. — Four tobacco shop owners claim in a lawsuit filed July 28 in California state court that the City of Palo Alto's new ordinance banning all flavored tobacco and e-cigarette products violates the U.S. and California constitutions and will force three of them to close down their businesses permanently after the ordinance takes effect on Sept. 1 (David Zoumut, et al. v. City of Palo Alto, et al., No. 20CV368790, Calif. Super., Santa Clara Co.).
ST. LOUIS — R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on Aug. 4 moved to dismiss or clarify claims brought against it and a Missouri supermarket chain by a lifelong smoker who claims that he became addicted to cigarettes before 1969 and whom RJR alleged in a notice removing the suit from state court had "fraudulently joined" the supermarket chain to "destroy diversity jurisdiction" (Michael Thompson v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 20-980, E.D. Miss.).
BALTIMORE — The Food and Drug Administration in an Aug. 5 letter asks the Maryland federal judge who originally set a Premarket Tobacco Application (PMTA) deadline for newly deemed tobacco products for permission to file a motion to clarify if the FDA may defer enforcement of the premarket authorization requirement for premium cigars or alternatively for relief from that requirement as the FDA wants to focus its "limited resources" on higher enforcement priorities like flavored e-cigarettes (American Academy of Pediatrics, et al. v. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 18-883, D. Md.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Philip Morris USA Inc. and a New Jersey-based cigarette company on Aug. 5 filed a motion for summary judgment or preliminary injunction asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to find that the Food and Drug Administration's new rule requiring graphic warnings on tobacco packages and advertisements is unconstitutional and illegal on its face and arguing that the FDA's recently released internal studies show that the warnings are ineffective and unconstitutional (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 20-1181, D. D.C.).
CINCINNATI — The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 5 questioned whether it can provide relief for an e-liquids maker in its appeal challenging the Food and Drug Administration's deadline for premarket tobacco applications (PMTAs) first set by a Maryland federal court and later superseded by FDA guidance and told the appellant's counsel that any requests for relief from a Maryland district court's order will "fail" (Vapor Technology Association, et al. v. U.S. Food And Drug Administration, et al., No. 20-5199, 6th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The "two discrete legal issues" raised by United Parcel Service Inc. in its bid for certiorari over $98 million in damages awarded to New York state and city for UPS's illegal shipments of untaxed cigarettes from Native American smoke shops do not warrant U.S. Supreme Court review, the state and city argue in Aug. 3 opposition briefs (United Parcel Service, Inc. v. New York, et al., No. 19-1306, U.S. Sup.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Fourth District Florida Court of Appeal panel on July 29 affirmed a lower court's judgment ordering R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) to pay $92.6 million to the state of Florida and $9.8 million to Phillip Morris USA Inc. after finding that RJR's 2014 sale of four cigarette brands did not terminate its liability to make annual payments for those brands to the state under the terms of its 1997 settlement of cigarette-related liability claims brought by the state (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Florida, et al., No. 4D18-2616; Philip Morris USA Inc. v. ITG Brands, LLC, No. 4D18-2715, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2020 Fla. App. LEXIS 10854).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tobacco manufacturer Altria Group Inc. and e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. argue in separate July 27 answering briefs to a Federal Trade Commission complaint accusing them of anti-competitive behavior that Altria's $12.8 billion acquisition of a 35 percent stake in Juul was a "pro-competitive" deal reached in response to market and regulatory pressures faced by both companies and was intended to benefit customers (In the Matter of Altria Group/JUUL Labs, No. 9393, FTC).
SAN DIEGO — San Diego County and its chief administrator on July 27 told a federal court in California that its ban on sales of flavored tobacco products is not preempted by federal law as it is a requirement and restriction on sales and not a new "tobacco product standard" that would be preempted by federal law regulating tobacco products (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., v. San Diego, et al., No. 20-1290, S.D. Calif.).
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 25 affirmed a district court’s dismissal of a challenge to tobacco regulations brought by a vaping manufacturer and e-cigarette industry association after finding that the nondelegation principle in Article I of the U.S. Constitution was not violated by Congress’ authorization of the secretary of Health and Human Services to determine what tobacco products should be subject to regulation (Big Time Vapes, Inc., et al. v. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 19-60921, 5th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 19885).
HONOLULU — Hawaii became the latest state to sue Juul Labs Inc. when it filed a complaint June 29 in Hawaii state court accusing the e-cigarette maker of preying on young people with deceptive and illegal marketing of its product and flavored pods (Hawai‘i v. Juul Labs, Inc., et al., No. 1CCV-20-0000933, Hawaii, 1st Cir.).
MINNEAPOLIS — A group of tobacco companies and retailers on July 9 filed a motion in federal court for a preliminary injunction blocking the city of Edina, Minn., from enforcing its new ban on flavored tobacco products including e-cigarettes, which the plaintiffs assert is preempted by federal law (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. Edina, et al., No. 20-1402, D. Minn.).
TYLER, Texas — Two public health advocacy organizations in separate amicus briefs filed July 17 in a Texas federal court assert that the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed new graphic warnings for tobacco products depicting lesser-known consequences of tobacco use are factual and uncontroversial and, therefore, constitutional despite arguments made by tobacco manufacturers and retailers that the warnings are intended to shock and disgust consumers (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 20-176, E.D. Texas).
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office on July 16 filed a complaint in state court to stop two California companies from selling flavored e-cigarette products online to Massachusetts customers in defiance of the statewide ban on flavored tobacco product sales and without verifying the ages of its customers (Massachusetts v. Puff Bar, et al., No. 2084CV01525, Mass Super., Suffolk Co.).
PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia on July 1 removed a state court lawsuit filed by a cigar industry association and cigar manufacturers challenging the city’s ban on flavored tobacco products as economically damaging and preempted by state tobacco law to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Cigar Association Of America Inc., et al. v. Philadelphia, et al., No. 20-3220, E.D. Pa.).