SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Efforts by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to enforce various state laws implementing the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) on a federally chartered corporation owned by the Big Sandy Rancheria Band of Western Mono Indians were challenged by the tribe in a July 13 complaint (Big Sandy Rancheria Enterprises v. Xavier Becerra., No. 18-1188, E.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a letter submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on July 16, the attorneys general of six states encouraged the agency to apply a nicotine product standard not only to cigarettes but also to other combusted tobacco products; three days later, several of the same officials singled out menthol — the only non-tobacco characterizing flavor still allowed in cigarettes — as an “impediment to States’ public health goals.”
PENSACOLA, Fla. — Punitive damages against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. were assessed by a Florida jury at $1,095,000 on July 25, following a two-week phase 1 trial initiated by a 69-year-old smoker suffering from peripheral vascular disease, coronary heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (Charles Bush v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2007CA003083, Fla. Cir., Escambia Co., 1st Jud. Dist.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal judge did not err in reconsidering an earlier summary judgment holding upon finding that a trademark infringement plaintiff sought and won damages for trademarks that were not yet registered at the time they were counterfeited, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 24 (Kaloud Inc. v. Shisha Land Wholesale Inc., Nos. 16-56138, -56401, -56500, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 20603).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Broward County judge’s decision to order a new trial on claims of fraud and conspiracy levied against the tobacco industry was upheld July 19 by Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal, in a dispute over statements made by plaintiff’s counsel that were later deemed prejudicial (Marilyn Oshinsky-Blacker v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 4D17-915, Fla. App. 4th Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 10150).
ST. LOUIS — In a July 20 order, a Missouri federal judge found that “numerous defects” render a plaintiff unlikely to succeed on his claim that the rights of Native American inmates were violated when the Missouri Department of Corrections instituted a policy prohibiting tobacco (Scotty McCracken, et al., v. Chantay Godert, et al., No. 18-35, E.D. Mo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121480).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A Florida jury in an Engle progeny case rendered a punitive damages verdict of $2.9 million on July 16, adding to the $3 million it already awarded a lung cancer widower on June 30 (Myron Kaplan v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al., No. 08-80000 (19), Fla. Cir., Broward Co., 17th Jud. Dist.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
PHILADELPHIA — For reasons “largely described” in his May decision dismissing allegations of fraudulent concealment and conspiracy to conceal against tobacco manufacturers R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and ITG Brands LLC, a Pennsylvania federal judge on June 26 granted a request for dismissal by a loose-leaf tobacco manufacturer defendant in the same case (Ted. A. McCracken v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 17-4495, E.D. Pa., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106323).
ORLANDO, Fla. — Counsel for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on June 22 successfully lobbied a Florida judge for a mistrial after learning that an expert witness for a wrongful death plaintiff received the deposition of a decedent’s ex-husband after the expert witness was deposed by counsel for the tobacco company (Brinda Coates, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Lois Stucky, v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 1997-CA-004541-O, Fla. 9th Jud. Cir., Orange Co.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Fourth District Florida Court of Appeal on July 11 directed a trial court to reinstate the full $37.5 million award rendered by jurors following a third trial in an Engle progeny case against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., pursuant to the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling in Schoeff v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Jan Grossman, No. 4D13-3949, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 9809).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a July 5 order, a District of Columbia federal judge wrote that the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra reinforces a conclusion that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should be enjoined from enforcing its “Deeming” and “User Fee” rules until plaintiffs challenging the rules receive “a full hearing before an appellate court” (Cigar Association of America Inc., et al. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 16-1460, D. D.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111669)
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The record-keeping requirements of the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act (CCTA) “do not turn on any territorial determination,” and therefore, businesses incorporated under the laws of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska must still maintain data on the purchasers of cigarettes on tribal land, the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled July 3 (Ho-Chunk Inc., et al. v. Jeff Sessions, No. 17-5140, D.C. Dir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 18107).
MINNEAPOLIS — A motion to transfer a constitutional challenge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “deeming rule” was granted June 26 by a Minnesota federal judge who found that the case should proceed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Jen Hoban, et al., v. United States Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 18-269, D. Minn., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106188).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — In a June 22 ruling, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court found that despite a “rational basis” for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to define an e-cigarette device and e-cigarette liquid containing nicotine as “tobacco products,” a state statute does not support authorizing the Department of Revenue (DOR) to levy separate taxes for each separately packaged component e-cigarette part (East Coast Vapor LLC v. Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, No. 515 M.D. 2017, Pa. Cmwlth).
MIAMI — A plaintiff’s assertions of Engle class membership were rejected June 22 by a Florida jury, which rendered a verdict in favor of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on allegations of wrongful death by the son of a smoker (Mark Cohen, as Personal Representative to the Estate of Shirley Cohen v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 14-018677CA23, Fla. Cir., 11th Jud., Dade Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In a June 22 order, the Florida Supreme Court declined to exercise jurisdiction over an Engle progeny case in view of Schoeff v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and accordingly let stand a $32.75 million compensatory and punitive damages award in favor of two tobacco plaintiffs (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. Richard Boatright, et al., No. SC17-894, Fla. Sup., 2018 Fla. LEXIS 1265).
FORT PIERCE, Fla. — A Florida jury on June 20 awarded the widow of a smoker $3 million in compensatory damages in an Engle progeny lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (Jacqueline Burgess, Personal Representative of the Estate of Johnny Burgess v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 562009CA006060, Fla. Cir., 19th Jud., St. Lucie Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The widow of a smoker who was awarded $4 million in compensatory damages in November 2014 won an additional $500,000 on June 15 following a new trial on her entitlement to seek punitive damages against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (Debra Perrotto, as personal representative of the estate of Nicholas Perrotto v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 502007CA023841XXXXMB, Fla. 15th Jud Cir., Palm Beach Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In a June 13 per curium decision, the First District Florida Court of Appeal let stand a jury’s award of $18.7 million on behalf of the widow of a smoker in an Engle progeny wrongful death case (Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Mary Faricy Pardue on behalf of the estate of John H. Faricy, No. 1D17-959, Fla. App., 1st Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 8282).
ALBANY, N.Y. — In a June 7 ruling, the New York Court of Appeals found that enforcement of a law that requires retailers on reservation land to prepay taxes on cigarette sales to patrons who are not members of the Seneca Nation of Indians does not run afoul of Indian Law Section 6 or the Buffalo Creek Treaty of 1842 (Eric White, et al. v. Eric Schneiderman, et al., No. 59, N.Y. App., 2018 N.Y. LEXIS 1353).