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.).
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).