MIAMI — Jurors in a Florida state court on Oct. 8 heard opening statements in the punitive damages-only phase of an Engle wrongful death action against a tobacco company for defectively designing and deceptively marketing cigarettes that caused the addiction and laryngeal cancer of a Cuban immigrant who died in 1996. VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A New York Indian tribe that sells its own brand of cigarettes filed a federal court lawsuit on Oct. 7 against an Indian tribe in Oklahoma with a similar name seeking to stop it from operating a competing smoke shop on the New York tribe’s reservation.
MIAMI — A federal judge in Florida on Oct. 6 ruled that an insurer is not liable for damages from a lawsuit in which a vaping cartridge manufacturer was sued by a couple due to the wife’s six-week hospitalization for injuries suffered after using a flavored vape, finding that the insurance policy was only retroactive to a date after the personal injury suit was filed.
SAN FRANCISCO — The defendants in the multidistrict litigation in California federal court against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. (JLI) and related entities on Oct. 8 separately filed motions to dismiss two bellwether tribal complaints in which Native American tribes allege that they were specifically targeted by JLI’s deceptive marketing about switching to e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative to cigarettes.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — E-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. (JLI) on Sept. 28 filed a complaint in a New York federal court alleging that a New York tobacco distributor is selling counterfeit and gray-market Juul products in violation of federal trademark infringement law.
SHAKOPEE, Minn. — The only licensed 21-and-over tobacco shop in the city of Prior Lake, Minn., on Sept. 30 filed an amended complaint in a state court against the city seeking to block a new ordinance which prohibits sales of flavored vaping products in the city and which was issued four months after the shop received its tobacco license.
SAN FRANCISCO — Two former employees of e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. on Sept. 30 filed an unopposed motion in a California federal court to approve a proposed settlement resolving claims that Juul violated California law and the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) by requiring employees to sign illegal nondisclosure and severance agreements that allegedly barred them from reporting illegal conduct to authorities.
ATLANTA — An e-cigarette company on Sept. 29 petitioned the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel for review of the Food and Drug Administration’s recent decision denying it the right to market its products in the United States, which it claims was “arbitrary” and “capricious.”
SPOKANE, Wash. — A Native American-owned tobacco company filed a complaint in Washington federal court on Sept. 28 claiming damages of more than $3.5 million from its former legal counsel for allegedly negotiating behind its back and against its interest with two of its corporate officers to create a new tobacco company.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A tobacco company in a Sept. 22 answer brief says the Florida Supreme Court need not review the reversal of a $10.6 million judgment in favor of a smoker’s son, writing that an appellate panel correctly found that the trial court erred by allowing the plaintiff to rely on “backward-looking hearsay” testimony to support his fraud claims.
MIAMI — A Florida appellate panel on Sept. 22 reversed a $10.5 million verdict in favor of a former Marine and cigarette smoker who sued a tobacco company for damages related to his laryngeal cancer, ruling that his claims are barred by Florida’s statute of repose for fraud.
BARNSTABLE, Mass. — A bench trial against a tobacco company brought by the widow of a former smoker who died from lung cancer after 40 years of smoking was put on hold Sept. 14 after the judge hearing the case and plaintiff’s attorney tested positive for COVID-19. VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on Sept. 15 affirmed a jury award of $21 million in compensatory and punitive damages to a smoker’s widow, ruling that the state’s entry into a 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) did not preclude punitive damages because the state’s attorney general in entering the MSA did not represent the widow’s statutory interest in her wrongful death action.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida appellate panel on Aug. 20 denied a petition for a writ of prohibition seeking to disqualify a trial judge hearing an Engle case who a tobacco company said would not be fair based on his past representation of Engle plaintiffs, writing that the tobacco company failed to identify the “precise date” it discovered the facts creating the grounds for its petition.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tobacco manufacturer Altria Group Inc. and e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. argue in an Aug. 24 post-trial brief to an administrative law judge that the Federal Trade Commission at a recent trial failed to prove that Altria's allegedly anti-competitive $12.8 billion acquisition of a 35% stake in Juul was a “secret conspiracy” and claim that competition in the e-cigarette market increased after the investment.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Food and Drug Administration announced Sept. 9 that it has denied premarket tobacco applications (PMTAs) for more than 946,000 flavored e-cigarette products, and said it needs more time to complete its review of other companies’ PMTA including industry giant Juul Labs Inc. (JLI).
LOS ANGELES — A California federal judge on Aug. 30 granted summary judgment in favor of Juul Labs Inc. (JLI) on its claims for violation of federal trademark statutes and California’s unfair competition law (UCL) against a Chinese national and his companies in relation to the sales of counterfeit Juul products but said material facts remain in dispute regarding damages.
MARQUETTE, Mich. — A Michigan federal judge on Aug. 26 enjoined Michigan from enforcing its use tax against an Indian tribe and its members for goods or services that are used both on- and off-reservation because it unconstitutionally does not apportion tax based on where the goods are used, as the judge found in a July 13 ruling that separately granted summary judgment in favor of the state on the tribe’s tobacco tax and other claims.
MIAMI — A Florida jury on Sept. 3 awarded $43 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the widower and three children of a woman who smoked for 40 years and died from lung cancer in her 50s in one of the first in-person Engle trials since COVID-19 courthouse restrictions were lifted. VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on Sept. 1 signed a stipulation and order appointing lead plaintiffs and lead counsel in a putative securities class action against a Chinese vaping company that is alleged to have misrepresented its financial prospects before its initial public offering (IPO) after granting motions for appointment of lead plaintiffs and counsel in an Aug. 31 order.