ATLANTA — An attorney for S&M Brands Inc. on April 17 told the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) is “skewed to benefit participating manufacturers,” as evidenced by a recent change to Georgia’s Model Escrow Agreement (MEA) that limits “permitted investments” for nonparticipating manufacturers (NPMs) (S&M Brands Inc. v. State of Georgia ex rel. Christopher M. Carr, No. 17-13261, 11th Cir.).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In a verdict rendered April 20, a jury in the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court for Duval County, Fla., awarded an Engle progeny plaintiff $375,000 in damages but deemed her 90 percent at fault for her chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (Myra Rozar v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008-CA-15000, Fla. Cir., 4th Jud., Duval Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
DADE CITY, Fla. — In an April 18 filing, counsel for a 76-year-old plaintiff who in February won $24 million in an Engle progeny suit requested a hearing date on R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.’s renewed motion for a directed verdict “as soon as humanly possible” (Rosemarie Graffeo v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2016CA000233, Fla. Cir., 6th Jud., Pasco Co.).
TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Court of Appeals on April 30 received notice that the city of Topeka. intends to appeal a March 22 holding by the Shawnee County District Court that struck down a city ordinance raising the minimum age for tobacco purchases from 18 to 21 (DWAGFYS Manufacturing Inc., et al. v. Topeka, No. 2018CV35, Kan. Dist., Shawnee Co.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — In a May 9 ruling, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal rejected efforts by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. to undo a $20 million punitive damage award issued by jurors to the widower of a smoker who died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Alan Konzelman, No. 4D16-4310, Fla App., 4th Dist.).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A planned four-week trial in an Engle progeny case ended in a mistrial April 13, when R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc. successfully moved to strike a juror for his “inability to understand English” (Myron Kaplan v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al., No. 08-80000 (19), Fla. Cir., Broward Co., 17th Jud. Dist.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge did not err in rejecting assertions by an e-cigarette manufacturer that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should have taken a different approach to the premarket review of new e-cigarettes, the agency tells the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a May 2 brief (Nicopure Labs LLC v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, No. 17-5196, D.C. Cir.).
ATLANTA — In a May 3 order, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied a motion for panel rehearing or rehearing en banc by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc. of a recent affirmance by the court of a $7.5 million verdict in an Engle progeny suit (Pauline Burkhart v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 14-14708, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 11579).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In an order issued March 28, the Florida Supreme Court announced that it will hold oral arguments on June 6 in a dispute over a $20 million verdict in favor of the daughter of a smoker, which was later vacated by the Fourth District Court of Appeal (Gwendolyn E. Odom v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. SC17-563, Fla. Sup.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In a decision issued without a public opinion, the First District Florida Court of Appeal on April 3 denied rehearing in a dispute over efforts by a widower to be substituted as plaintiff in an Engle progeny suit; on April 24, the widower indicated to the panel his intent to appeal to the Florida Supreme Court (Raymond Staines v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 1D16-2655, Fla. App., 1st Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 5497).
MINNEAPOLIS — In a motion filed April 13, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told a Minnesota federal judge that “to prevent the unnecessary expenditure of judicial resources, avoid wasteful and duplicative litigation, and avert the possibility of inconsistent judgments,” a January lawsuit over the FDA’s deeming rule 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.).
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A Florida jury’s April 5 award of $2 million for past and future pain and suffering in connection with an e-cigarette explosion that caused a plaintiff to lose several teeth goes against the “manifest weight of the evidence,” the seller of the e-cigarette battery told the Alachua County Circuit Court on April 18 (J. Michael Hoce v. R-L Sales LLC, et al., Fla. Cir., 8th Jud. Cir., Alachua Co.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A divided First District Florida Court of Appeal on April 18 upheld, without explanation, a $6.3 million verdict in favor of a widow, but the per curiam affirmance spawned a dissent that argued that Philip Morris USA Inc. is entitled to a new trial on allegations of wrongful death (Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Mary Brown, as personal representative of the Estate of Rayfield Brown, No. 1D15-2337, Fla. App., 1st Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 5193).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — In a two-page ruling issued April 25, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal — acting on remand by the Florida Supreme Court — reversed and remanded to the 17th Judicial Circuit Court for Broward County a decision that drastically reduced the amount of damages due to a lung cancer widower (Stephen Tognoli v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 4D16-224, Fla. App. 4th Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 5745).
OMAHA, Neb. — In settling claims by the tobacco industry that it had not diligently enforced its escrow statute, the state of Nebraska accepted terms that “violate principles of federal Indian law, invade tribal sovereignty, discriminate against tribes, and illegally force tribes to comply with” the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), two plaintiffs assert in an April 20 complaint filed in Nebraska federal court (HCI Distribution Inc., et al., v. Douglas Peterson, et al., No. 18, D. Neb.).
MIAMI — A Florida judge abused his discretion in undoing a jury verdict that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. was not liable for the lung cancer death of a Florida man, the Third District Florida Court of Appeal ruled April 25 (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company v. Patsy Davis, No. 3D16-1994, Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 5602).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — At a status conference before a District of Columbia federal judge April 25, the government and three cigarette manufacturers announced that an agreement has been reached on corrective statements, signaling a potential end to a longstanding dispute over racketeering by the tobacco industry (United States, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 99-2496, D. D.C.).
ST. LOUIS — An appellant’s 2014 Minnesota state court complaint, later dismissed as time-barred, alleging that the state violated the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when it failed to share annual payments derived from a 1998 settlement with tobacco companies precludes her purported 2016 class action against the state, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed April 20 (Sheila Foster v. Minnesota, No. 17-1177, 8th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 10136).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — After granting a motion for rehearing, a panel of the Fourth District Florida Court of Appeal on April 19 ordered that an evidentiary hearing be held by the trial court presiding over an Engle progeny suit to determine if a law firm should be disqualified from representing a plaintiff because one of its former attorneys had previously worked as an attorney defending tobacco companies in such cases (Dolores Balaban v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 4D17-2479, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 5233).
ATLANTA — An 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 17 affirmed a final judgement in an Engle progeny action after finding that a trial court did not err in reducing the final judgment in the suit in which a man claimed that he developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (Patrick O. Griffin v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 14-14709, 11th Cir.).