FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A request for a mistrial by two tobacco companies was denied June 2 when a Florida judge instead found that an initial, inconsistent verdict by jurors in an Engle progeny case and $8 million award for wrongful death could stand; nearly one week later, on the evening of June 8, the jury rendered a punitive damage award of $12 million (Herbert Landi v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. CACE08025814, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud., Broward Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
MIAMI — A Florida jury on June 6 sided with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. when, after brief deliberations, it found that a plaintiff’s husband — who died in 1994 of lung cancer — was not a member of the Engle class (Eulalia Lopez v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-076453-CA-01., Fla. Cir., 11th Jud., Miami-Dade Co.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida judge erred in refusing to stay execution of a judgment where R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. complied with Florida’s bond-cap statute by posting a $15 million bond, the Fourth District Florida Court of Appeal ruled June 6 (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Jan Grossman, No. 4D18-627, Fla. App., 4th Dist.).
DALLAS — In a June 4 order, a federal judge in Texas agreed to send a lawsuit that questions the constitutionality of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “deeming rule” to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for further adjudication (Rave Salon Inc., et al. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 18-237, N.D. Texas).
MIAMI — In a per curiam opinion issued June 6, the Third District Florida Court of Appeal rejected a challenge by the widow of a smoker of a July 2017 transfer of her wrongful death claims against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. from Miami-Dade to Martin County (Phyllis Muro v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 3D17-1765, Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 7820).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In oral arguments on June 6 in a dispute over a vacated $20 million compensatory and punitive damage award, Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara J. Pariente told an attorney for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. that the relationship between a plaintiff and her late mother, who died of lung cancer, was so exceptionally close that “every factor” points to “a substantial verdict for her pain and suffering, and loss of companionship” (Gwendolyn E. Odom v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. SC17-563, Fla. Sup.).
MELBOURNE, Fla. — An Engle progeny case ended in a mistrial on May 30 after jurors empaneled in the 18th Judicial Circuit Court for Brevard County, Fla., announced that they were unable to reach a verdict (Pearl Morse, as Personal Representative for the Estate of Jay S. Morse v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 08-CA-6848, Fla. 18th Jud. Cir., Brevard Co.).
MIAMI — In a May 25 order, U.S. Judge Kenneth A. Marra of the Southern District of Florida declined a joint request by attorneys for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and the widower of a smoker that the court retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of their settlement of wrongful death claims (Herbert Potish, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Lena Potish, v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 15-81171, S.D. Fla., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89211).
SARASOTA, Fla. — An Engle progeny case ended May 23 in a defense verdict, when jurors empaneled in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court for Sarasota County, Fla., answered “no” to the question of whether a plaintiff was addicted to smoking and whether smoking was the legal cause of his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema (John Joseph Damiano Jr. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2011-CA-000450-NC, Fla. Cir., 12th Jud., Sarasota Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a May 24 memorandum, a District of Columbia federal judge turned away a publisher’s request that the court compel tobacco manufacturers to reimburse The Little Rock Sun Community Newspaper for costs associated with printing court-approved corrective advertising (United States, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 99-2496, D. D.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86967).
SARASOTA, Fla. — A Florida jury on May 22 returned a verdict against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc., deeming the tobacco companies primarily responsible for the lung cancer death of Edward “Fred” Theis; one day later, on May 23, the jury awarded his widow $14 million in punitive damages (Faye Theis v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2011-CA-001941-NC, Fla. 12th Jud. Cir., Sarasota Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
PHILADELPHIA — Efforts by a Pennsylvania man suffering from emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to sue, personally, the president and chief executives of three tobacco companies were dismissed May 21 by a Pennsylvania federal judge (Ted. A. McCracken v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 17-4495, E.D. Pa., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84573).
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Asserting violations of the New Jersey Product Liability Act (NJPLA), negligence and other torts, a New Jersey man who suffered burns when his vaping device exploded in the pockets of his pants filed suit in the Middlesex County Superior Court on May 18 (Jesse Kelly, Jr. v. I South Vape LLC, et al., No. MID-L-003092-18, N.J .Super., Middlesex Co.).
LAKELAND, Fla. — In a May 18 per curiam ruling, the Second District Florida Court of Appeal left intact an $8 million award rendered by jurors in May 2016 on behalf of the family of a deceased smoker, just over one week after hearing oral arguments in the Engle progeny case (James C. McCabe v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2D17-797, Fla. App. 2nd Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 6947).
MIAMI — In a May 15 order, a Florida state court judge granted a plaintiff leave to amend his Engle progeny complaint in order to add a claim for punitive damages against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc., rejecting the tobacco companies’ assertion that such an amendment would be premature (Michael Jordan Lipp, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 17-018509-CA-10, Fla. 11th Jud Cir. Miami-Dade Co.).
SHREVEPORT, La. — In a May 11 holding, a Louisiana federal judge found that a plaintiff alleging violations of the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act (LUTPA) by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) does not lack standing under the statute but failed to bring its claim within the applicable one-year limitations period (Caldwell Wholesale Company LLC v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, No. 17-200, W.D. La., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81080).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In a May 14 jurisdictional brief, an appellant tells the Florida Supreme Court that he was erroneously denied an opportunity to file an amended complaint against two tobacco companies after the trial court deemed the case a legal nullity, upon learning that the original named plaintiff died before her complaint could be filed (Raymond Staines v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc., No. SC18-628, Fla. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a 70-page summary judgment issued May 15, a District of Columbia federal judge confirmed as constitutional the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s May 2016 “Deeming” and “User Fee” Rules, finding only one provision relating to in-store blending of pipe tobacco in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (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 81101).
LAKELAND, Fla. — In a May 7 answer brief, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. tells the Second District Florida Court of Appeal that a Pinellas County trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying a motion to vacate an earlier dismissal for lack of prosecution because a plaintiff disregarded procedures to avoid dismissal during a “standstill agreement” in the underlying wrongful death case (Estella Purdue v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2D18-0333, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.).
NEW YORK — In an April 23 reply brief, United Parcel Service tells the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that the state of New York and New York City, in a February brief defending their $247 million award for UPS’s delivery of untaxed cigarettes, rely only on “rhetoric and invective” (New York, et al. v. United Parcel Service, No. 17-1993, 2nd Cir.).