TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court on April 14 declined to accept jurisdiction of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.’s appeal of an appellate court’s decision reversing a directed verdict and ordering a new trial on punitive damages only for a smoker’s widow, which the jury had found were warranted for the widow’s design defect claim (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company v. Mirtha Ledo, etc., No. 19-1131, Fla. Sup.).
HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Attorney General’s Office on April 10 moved in state court to enforce provisions of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) against tobacco manufacturers, alleging that tobacco manufacturers owe the state $42,726,519.65 in annual payments required under the MSA and have intentionally raised unsubstantiated disputes to evade or reduce the payments (Montana ex rel. Timothy Fox v. Philip Morris Inc., et al., No. CDV-1997-306, Mont. 1st Jud. Dist., Lewis and Clark Co.).
BALTIMORE — A federal judge in Maryland on April 22 extended premarket tobacco application (PMTA) deadlines for newly deemed tobacco products, including many e-cigarette products, by six months per a government request based on logistical difficulties caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak (American Academy of Pediatrics, et al. v. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 18-883, D. Md.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The $12.8 billion investment by tobacco manufacturer Altria Group Inc. in e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. and subsequent retraction of Altria’s e-cigarette products from the market was anti-competitive and increased prices for consumers of Juul e-cigarettes, a Juul customer alleges in a proposed class action complaint filed April 7 against Altria and Juul in a federal court in California (Douglas J. Reece v. Altria Group Inc., et al., No. 20-2345, N.D. Calif.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc., tobacco manufacturer Altria Group Inc. and other vaping businesses on April 10 filed proposed amended personal injury and class action master complaints in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California with new claims that Juul and Altria violated antitrust laws and new allegations that e-cigarette users are more susceptible to the novel coronavirus (In Re: Juul Labs, Inc., Marketing, Sales Practices, And Products Liability Litigation, No. 19-2913, N.D. Calif.).
RICHMOND, Va. — Vaping industry associations and health groups on April 10 filed responses in the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals supporting the FDA’s motion for limited remand of an appeal of tobacco regulations so that the district court may issue a 120-day extension of premarket application deadlines for new tobacco products due to logistical delays caused by the novel coronavirus (In re: Cigar Association Of America, et al., No. 19-2130, 4th Cir.).
ATLANTA — A $20 million punitive damages award issued by a jury to a smoker’s widower is unconstitutionally excessive, and the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals should remand the case for a new trial or order a remittitur of the punitive award, Philip Morris USA Inc. says in an April 1 reply brief in its second appeal of the verdict (Bernard Cote v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., No. 19-14074, 11th Cir.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court on April 6 declined to accept jurisdiction of a smoker’s widower’s appeal of an appellate court’s decision reversing and remanding a $40.9 million jury verdict after finding that the trial court erred in limiting R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.’s ability to defend against the decedent’s membership in the Engle class (Leslie Schlefstein, etc. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, No. 19-2147, Fla. Sup.).
DENVER — Boulder County, Colo., on April 2 filed a complaint against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. and tobacco manufacturer Altria Group Inc. in a federal court in Colorado, becoming one of the latest municipalities to accuse the e-cigarette giants of racketeering by conspiring to expand the e-cigarette products market by targeting youth while concealing the risks of the products (The Board of County Commissioners of the County of Boulder v. Juul Labs Inc., et al., No. 20-0917, D. Colo.).
TYLER, Texas — A group of tobacco manufacturers and convenience store owners in an April 3 complaint filed in federal court in Texas claim that the latest U.S. Food And Drug Administration rule requiring graphic warning labels for tobacco packages and advertisements, like the first rule, violates the First Amendment and that the statutory provision under which both rules were issued should be struck down (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. FDA, et al., No. 20-176, E.D Texas).
RALEIGH, N.C. — A federal judge in North Carolina on March 30 granted a motion to clarify a previous order as to the adequacy of class counsel in a class action previously settled for $24 million, finding that, contrary to an earlier and now-vacated state court order, plaintiff and defense counsel in the federal case and a competing state court class action did not violate the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct or otherwise engage in unethical conduct (Teresa M. Speaks, et al., v. U.S. Tobacco Cooperative, Inc., No. 12-729, E.D. N.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53654).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Trade Commission on April 1 issued an administrative complaint against tobacco company Altria Group Inc. and e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc., alleging that Altria’s $12.8 billion, 35 percent acquisition of Juul eliminated competition in violation of federal antitrust laws (In the Matter of Altria Group/JUUL Labs, No. 9393, FTC).
RICHMOND, Va. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in a March 30 letter to the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a consolidated appeal of its tobacco product regulations stated that it has filed a request in the underlying district court case seeking a 120-day extension of premarket application deadlines for new tobacco products, including many e-cigarette products, due to delays caused by the novel coronavirus (In re: Cigar Association Of America, et al., No. 19-2130, 4th Cir.).
RICHMOND, Va. — E-cigarette and cigar industry association attorneys in oral arguments on March 18 before a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel attacked a decision by a federal judge in Maryland that imposed new deadlines on premarket applications for their products, arguing that the decision was outside the judge’s authority and would harm their industries (In re: Cigar Association Of America, et al., No. 19-2130, 4th Cir.).
CINCINNATI — A district court erred when it dismissed an e-liquids manufacturer’s complaint seeking a preliminary injunction against the Food and Drug Administration halting enforcement of a premarket tobacco application deadline for lack of standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution, the manufacturer tells the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a March 21 appellant brief (Vapor Technology Association, et al. v. U.S. Food And Drug Administration, et al., No. 20-5199, 6th Cir.).
ATLANTA — An 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 24 affirmed a trial court’s rulings denying motions for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) and for new trial or remittitur after a jury awarded $41.1 million in compensatory and punitive damages to a smoker with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), holding that the awards were not excessive or unconstitutional and that the smoker’s lifelong exposure to the tobacco industry’s “misinformation campaign” was sufficient evidence of detrimental reliance to claim fraudulent concealment (Kenneth Kerrivan v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al., No. 18-13045, 11th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 9132).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Food and Drug Administration on March 17 issued a new final rule requiring tobacco products and advertisements to include new color graphic health warnings “depicting the negative health consequences of smoking” as of June 2021.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida appellate panel on March 23 reversed and remanded a trial court order denying a motion for additur or a new trial on a zero-damages past pain and suffering award for a smoker who won a lawsuit against a tobacco company in which she claimed that cigarettes caused her chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), ruling that the zero-damages award was “inadequate” as a matter of law based on evidence presented at trial (Myra Rozar v. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, No. 18-4029, Fla. App., 1st Dist.).
NEW YORK — While a man produces sufficient product identification testimony, two experts’ opinions ruling out asbestos as a cause of his lung cancer doom the smoker’s lung cancer case, a New York justice held March 17 (Laura Avakian, et al. v. Consolidated Edison of New York, et al., No. 190036/2018, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Plaintiffs on March 11 filed two master complaints in the multidistrict litigation against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc., one for personal injury and one for class action claims, both accusing Juul, its founders and board members and Altria Group Inc. of conspiring to sell highly addictive e-cigarette products, marketing them to youth and making false statements to the public and regulators to keep Juul’s products on the market (In Re: Juul Labs, Inc., et al., No. 19-md-2913, N.D. Calif.).