NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on Feb. 4 ruled that lead plaintiffs in a securities class action lawsuit alleging that tobacco company Philip Morris International Inc. and several of its senior executives misrepresented clinical study results for an e-cigarette product it manufactured, as well as the product’s financial performance in Japan, failed to plead any false or misleading statements made by the defendants or scienter in pleading their federal securities law claims (In re Philip Morris International Inc. Securities Litigation, No. 18-8049, S.D. N.Y.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida jury on Jan. 31 confronted the question of whether a man used cigarettes because of tobacco company conduct or because of his own desire to smoke as lawyers delivered opening statements in a Florida tobacco trial (Edward Richter, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds, No. 2008-CA-038-650, Fla. Cir., Palm Beach Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bipartisan group of six U.S. senators on Jan. 22 introduced S.B. 3223, the Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act, which proposes a user fee to be levied on e-cigarette manufacturers to fund federal oversight of the industry, as well as prevention and youth awareness programs.
RICHMOND, Va. — U.S. government agencies argue in a Jan. 23 brief to the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that ongoing challenges to a 2019 federal court ruling setting new deadlines for premarket applications for e-cigarettes and other tobacco products, filed by vaping and cigar industry associations and businesses, have been rendered moot by new Food and Drug Administration regulations issued in January that advanced some deadlines to February and further contend that these regulations are within the agency’s administrative purview and thus not subject to judicial review (In re: Cigar Association Of America, et al., No. 19-2130, 4th Cir.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— A smoker’s widower argues in a Jan. 17 appeal brief to the Florida Supreme Court that an appellate court’s ruling reversing a $7.1 million verdict due to missing the state statute of repose and ordering a new trial on negligence and strict liability claims conflicts with multiple other Florida Supreme Court and appellate court rulings (Michael Gentile, etc. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 19-2124, Fla. Sup., 2019 Fla. LEXIS 2449).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A health-focused nonprofit on Jan. 17 filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against Juul Labs Inc. in the District of Columbia Superior Court accusing the e-cigarette maker of misleading its customers by concealing the nicotine level of its products, which it claims can, in a single pod, contain as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes (Breathe DC v Juul Labs, Inc., No. 20-0426, D.C. Sup.).
RICHMOND, Va. — Tobacco manufacturer Altria Group Inc. on Jan. 29 said it recorded a $4.1 billion fourth-quarter, non-cash pre-tax charge related to its minority ownership of vaping manufacturer Juul Labs Inc. due to growing litigation against Juul.
MIAMI — After awarding $2.5 million on a man’s claim that addiction drove him to smoke cigarettes, a Florida jury on Jan. 16 awarded no punitive damages, sources told Mealey Publications (Sabrina Cuddihee v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 2008CA000398, Fla. Cir., Duval Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
MIAMI — A Florida jury on Jan. 10 heard opening statements where lawyers battled over whether a man smoked cigarettes fully aware of the dangers or whether those hazards were known only to the defendant and kept hidden from smokers (Leo Yount v. R.J. Reynolds, No. 2007CA030346, Fla. Cir., Dade Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
LEXINGTON, Ky. — A Kentucky federal judge on Jan. 16 granted a motion by government agencies to dismiss a lawsuit that a vaping industry trade association and one of its members filed to halt enforcement of a premarket tobacco applications deadline that the group claimed 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.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The widower of a smoker on Dec. 20 appealed to the Florida Supreme Court after a Florida appeals court reversed a $40.9 million jury verdict and ordered a new trial on the grounds that the trial court erred by blocking a tobacco company from challenging the smoker’s Engle class membership (Leslie Schlefstein, etc. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 19-2147, Fla. Sup.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Tobacco company Philip Morris USA Inc. on Jan. 6 filed notice that it is asking the Florida Supreme Court to review an appeals court’s November ruling in favor of a smoker’s widow that partially reversed a trial court and ordered a new trial on punitive damages for both intentional and nonintentional tort claims (Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Stefanny Sommers, etc., No. 20-19, Fla. Sup.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. argues in a Dec. 20 brief on jurisdiction that the Florida Supreme Court should not review an appellate court decision reversing a trial court’s order that it pay attorney fees to the widower of a longtime smoker in an Engle progeny case, saying the order was consistent with state Supreme Court precedent and Florida state law (James Lewis, etc. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 19-1374, Fla. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The California federal judge overseeing the Juul Labs Inc. multidistrict litigation asked the parties during a Jan. 13 in camera meeting to think about settlement discussions, according to minutes of a case management conference that followed (In Re: Juul Labs, Inc., Marketing, Sales Practices, And Products Liability Litigation, No. 19-2913, N.D. Calif.).
MIAMI — A Florida jury on Jan. 16 awarded a man $2.5 million after hearing that he would venture into the cold and rain to smoke and used cigarettes despite suffering from asthma. The jury is next considering punitive damages in the case (Guy Cuddihee v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 2008CA000398, Fla. Cir., Duval Co.) VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
MIAMI — A former Marine developed laryngeal cancer but never needed to because safer tobacco products existed, a lawyer told a jury during opening statements on Jan. 16. But Philip Morris USA Inc.’s counsel told the jury that there was no way the man could not have known of the dangers cigarettes posed (Ed Principe v. Philip Morris, No. 2017-CA-025772, Fla. Cir., Dade Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a Jan. 14 report identified e-cigarette products with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and from informal sources as a major factor in the 2,602 vaping-related injuries currently being reviewed as part of its multistate investigation into vaping-related illnesses. The agency renewed its recommendation that the public refrain from any use of vaping or e-cigarette products pending the conclusion of the investigation (“Update: Product, Substance-Use, and Demographic Characteristics of Hospitalized Patients in a Nationwide Outbreak of E-cigarette, or Vaping, Product Use-Associated Lung Injury” — United States, Aug. 2019-Jan. 2020, Mort. Mortal. Wkly. Rep. ePub, 14 Jan. 2020, S. Ellington, et al.).
SAN DIEGO — In a Jan. 7 filing in California state court, the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) became one of the latest school districts to sue Juul Labs Inc. for allegedly illegally marketing their e-cigarette products and flavored pods to minors; meanwhile, a Mississippi school district hit Juul with a class complaint in federal court a month earlier alleging Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act violations (San Diego Unified School District v. Juul Labs Inc., et al., No. 37-2020-00000935-CU-MT-CTL, Calif. Super., San Diego Co.; Jefferson County Public School District, et al. v. Juul Labs Inc., et al., No. 19-8265, N.D. Calif.).
PHOENIX — The attorney general of Arizona filed consumer fraud lawsuits on Jan. 7 in state court against Juul Labs Inc. for marketing e-cigarettes to youths, making Arizona the sixth state to sue Juul, and against Eonsmoke LLC, a New Jersey-based producer of vaping products, including flavored pods similar to those Juul has ceased producing (Arizona v. Juul Labs Inc., No. CV2020-000317, Arizona v. Eonsmoke LLC, No. CV2020-000318, Ariz. Super., Maricopa Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on Dec. 20 said the court will not relitigate the issue of whether tobacco companies must make “corrective statements” about their products in a 20-year-old RICO lawsuit but will instead require the United States and the tobacco companies to address how such statements will impact the rights of point-of-sale (POS) retailers (United States, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 99-2496, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 219390).