Mealey's Tobacco

  • July 11, 2019

    Florida Panel: Trial Court Erred In Not Directing Verdict Against R.J. Reynolds

    LAKELAND, Fla. — The Second District Florida Court of Appeal on June 26 reversed a judgment that had cleared defendant R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in an Engle progeny lawsuit and remanded the case for a new trial, saying the trial court erred in not directing a verdict in favor of the plaintiff on the tobacco company’s statute of limitations defense (Angela Sue Durrance v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2D17-2009, Fla. App., 2nd Dist., 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 10026).

  • July 11, 2019

    Florida Court Denies Rehearing; R.J. Reynolds May Face Trial For Punitive Damages

    MIAMI — A Florida intermediate appellate court on June 5 denied R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.’s motion for certification to the state Supreme Court or rehearing or rehearing en banc of its holding that reversed a directed verdict in an Engle progeny case and remanded for a new trial solely on the amount of punitive damages (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company v. Mirtha Ledo, No. 3D17-2328. Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 9873).

  • July 11, 2019

    Florida Panel Reverses Order That Obliged R.J. Reynolds To Pay $4M In Attorney Fees

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A Florida appellate panel on June 14 reversed a trial court’s order that required R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. to pay the attorney fees, amounting to nearly $4 million including interest, of the widower of a smoker in an Engle progeny case, saying the inclusion of costs related to nontestifying witnesses to determine the legal threshold to trigger payment was in error (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. James Lewis, Nos. 5D17-773, 5D18-3654, Fla. App., 5th Dist., 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 9314).

  • July 11, 2019

    R.J. Reynolds Opposes Review Of Engle Holding That Barred Surgeon General Reports

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. contends in a June 4 answer brief on jurisdiction that an appellate court’s ruling does not conflict with decisions by the Florida Supreme Court and that the high court should not review the intermediate appellate court’s finding that U.S. surgeon general reports on smoking were inadmissible as hearsay in reversing a $46.5 million award against the company in an Engle progeny case (Bettye Ryan, etc. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. SC18-37, Fla. Sup.).

  • July 11, 2019

    11th Circuit Denies Rehearing In Row Among Tobacco Manufacturers In Southeast

    ATLANTA — A Florida tobacco manufacturer’s petition for rehearing or rehearing en banc of an appeal of a federal court’s dismissal — on the grounds that it failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted — of its claims against competitors for unjust enrichment and unfair competition was denied by the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 21 (Vibo Corp., Inc. v. U.S. Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers, Inc., et al., No. 18-12499, 11th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 18768).

  • July 03, 2019

    Florida Jury Awards $10.6M In Engle Case Against R.J. Reynolds

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A Florida jury awarded the children of a longtime smoker who died from lung cancer $6 million in compensatory damages and $4.6 million in punitive damages on July 1 and 2, respectively, in an Engle progeny case against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (Robert Hamilton v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008-CA-019632 [13], Fla. 17th Jud. Cir., Broward Co.). VIDEO OF THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.

  • June 26, 2019

    Jury Clears R.J. Reynolds Of Liability In Lung Cancer Death Of Florida Smoker

    PENSACOLA, Fla. — A Florida jury on June 24 cleared R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. of liability in the death of a longtime smoker in the retrial of a case that had seen an award of more than $33 million in compensatory and punitive damages (Cynthia Robinson v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-CA-000098, Fla. 1st Jud. Cir., Escambia Co.).  VIDEO OF THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.

  • June 17, 2019

    FDA Defense Of Warning Labels, Ads Is Unconstitutional, Premium Cigar Merchants Say

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal government, “[w]hen forced to defend its warnings mandate on premium cigars . . . has to bend the First Amendment beyond recognition,” tobacco makers and retailers contend in a June 4 brief in federal court in the District of Columbia in further support of their motion for summary judgment and permanent junction and opposition to the Food and Drug Administration’s cross-motion for summary judgment (En Fuego Tobacco Shop LLC, et al. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 18-1797, D. D.C.).

  • June 17, 2019

    R.J. Reynolds Argues $16M Punitive Damages Award By Florida Jury Is Excessive

    ORLANDO, Fla. — A Florida court should enter a directed verdict because evidence did not support the jury’s strict liability design-defect finding in a trial that resulted in $300,000 in survivorship damages and $16 million in punitive damages being awarded to the family of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. says in a May 8 reply brief in support of its renewed motion for directed verdict or, alternatively, for a new trial or remittitur (Brinda Coates v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 1997-CA-004541-O, Fla. 9th Jud. Cir., Orange Co.).

  • June 17, 2019

    Florida High Court Told Jurisdiction, Consolidation Not Warranted In Engle Case

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Petitioner R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. “improperly presumes” that the Florida Supreme Court will accept jurisdiction of an Engle progeny case in which the cigarette maker was ordered to pay $20 million in punitive damages and “erroneously asserts” reasons the case should be consolidated with another Engle case for the high court to review, the personal representative of the estate of a smoker says in a May 15 opposition brief (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Sandra L. Mattson, etc., No. SC18-1550, Fla. Sup.).

  • June 17, 2019

    Petitioner Opposes Motion For Consolidation Of R.J. Reynolds Engle Cases In Florida

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — R.J. Reynolds’ motion seeking to consolidate a petition to the Florida Supreme Court in an Engle wrongful death action with the petition in another Engle case appears to be premature since a decision to review each matter is pending and “[t]he existence of jurisdiction in each case necessarily rises and falls on its own merits,” the widow of a smoker says in her June 12 brief arguing for denial of the motion (Mary E. Sheffield v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. SC19-601, Fla. Sup.).

  • June 17, 2019

    Philip Morris: Denial Of Motion For Judgment In Engle Case Demands Reversal

    ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals should reverse a lower court’s denial of Philip Morris USA Inc.’s motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) because the plaintiff’s evidence was insufficient to establish reliance and legal causation elements of fraud claims, the company says in an April 24 brief supporting its appeal in a Florida Engle progeny case that resulted in a $17 million judgment against it (Donna Brown v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 15-13160, M.D. Fla.).

  • June 17, 2019

    U.S. Supreme Court Denies Petition Of Cigarette Wholesaler That Challenged Fine

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on June 17 denied a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by a cigarette wholesaler seeking a ruling on whether its fine by the tax commissioner of West Virginia was unconstitutional and “grossly disproportionate” to its offense of unlawfully selling more than 12,000 packs of cigarettes (Ashland Specialty Co. Inc. v. Dale W. Steager, State Tax Commissioner of West Virginia, No. 18-1053, U.S. Sup.).

  • June 17, 2019

    West Virginia High Court Affirms Denial Of Motion To Reinstate Tobacco Case

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on June 7 found that a lower court did not abuse its discretion when it denied a plaintiff’s motion to reinstate a two-decade-old tobacco personal injury case that became part of mass litigation, saying the plaintiff “did not take the steps necessary to become a proper party or prosecute the claim” (In re Tobacco Litigation [Jimmie Hieneman v. Brown & Williamson Holdings, Inc.], No. 18-0412, W.Va. Sup.; 2019 W.Va. LEXIS 286).

  • June 12, 2019

    R.J. Reynolds Settles Florida Wrongful Death Engle Case

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and the widow of a longtime cigarette smoker have settled a wrongful death action, a Florida judge said June 10 on what would have been the second day of testimony in their Engle progeny trial (Jeanette Powell, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2007CA011551, Fla. 4th Jud. Cir., Duval Co.).  VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.

  • June 12, 2019

    Massachusetts Jury Awards Smoker’s Family $17.5M In Wrongful Death Case

    LOWELL, Mass. — A Massachusetts jury awarded the family of a 58-year-old longtime smoker who died from lung cancer $6.31 million in compensatory damages on May 30 and $11,275,000 in punitive damages on May 31 in a wrongful death action against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (James Coyne v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 1681CV00266, Mass. Super., Middlesex Co.).  VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.

  • June 11, 2019

    11th Circuit Upholds Georgia’s Restrictions On Investments By Tobacco Escrow Funds

    ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 29 rejected federal constitutional challenges and state law claims challenging statutory changes to Georgia’s model escrow agreement for tobacco producers in affirming an order by a federal judge (S&M Brands, Inc. v. Georgia ex rel., No. 17-13261, 11th Cir.; 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 15870).

  • June 10, 2019

    Justices Deny Cert For Tribal Tobacco Company’s Challenge To Taxation

    WASHINGTON, D.C.  — An Indian tobacco company must pay federal excise taxes on its products, despite the language of an 1855 treaty, after the U.S. Supreme Court on June 10 denied the company’s petition for certiorari, letting stand a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision (King Mountain Tobacco Co., Inc. v. United States, No. 18-984, U.S. Sup.).

  • June 07, 2019

    JUUL Warns Of ‘Tremendous Risk’ Posed By Counterfeits

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The maker of “JUUL”-brand nicotine extract pods on June 4 filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against various alleged counterfeiters in Virginia federal court; the same day, Juul Labs Inc. (JLI) moved to seal its related request for a temporary restraining order (TRO), citing a “strong interest in preventing Defendants from discovering the existence of the suit” (Juul Labs Inc. v. Unincorporated Associations, No. 19-715, E.D. Va.).

  • June 04, 2019

    Federal Class Action Says Ecstacy Herbal Cigarettes Are As Dangerous As Tobacco

    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Ecstacy herbal cigarettes are at least as dangerous as tobacco cigarettes, and the brand’s owner “subvert[s]” their health risks and promotes them as a healthy alternative to traditional cigarettes, a woman alleges in a product liability class action filed May 30 in Florida federal court (Jamie Reid, et al. v. Greenlane Holdings, Inc., No. 9:19-cv-80711-RLR, S.D. Fla.).

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