SAN DIEGO — Seeking to block a new California law that bans the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol flavor, statewide, a group of tobacco companies, industry associations and retailers on Oct. 9 filed a complaint and a motion for preliminary injunction in a California federal court, arguing that the new law regarding flavors is preempted by congressional tobacco regulations that bar municipalities from enacting regulations related to “tobacco product standards” (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. Becerra, et al., No. 20-1990, S.D. Calif.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Three tobacco companies on Oct. 9 filed a jurisdictional brief asking the Florida Supreme Court to review a Fourth District Court of Appeal decision reinstating a $1.8 million verdict in favor of a smoker’s widower, arguing that the appeals court erred in finding that the plaintiff submitted sufficient evidence to establish defendant-specific causation (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v James Santoro, No. SC20-1291, Fla. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Government agencies on Oct. 8 filed a cross-motion for summary judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, urging the court to reject two tobacco companies’ challenges to the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed new graphic warnings for tobacco products, saying that FDA studies establish that the new warnings better inform the public than existing surgeon general warnings (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 20-1181, D. D.C.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Oct. 5 affirmed a district court’s dismissal of an e-liquids manufacturer’s lawsuit claiming that the Food and Drug Administration’s filings to a Maryland federal court unlawfully supported the court’s order advancing the premarket tobacco application (PMTA) deadline by 27 months for lack of standing and found that the manufacturer’s request for injunctive relief halting PMTA-related enforcement against it was without merit (Vapor Technology Association, et al. v. U.S. Food And Drug Administration, et al., No. 20-5199, 6th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 31586).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Fifth District Florida Court of Appeal panel wrongly reversed a $5 million punitive damages verdict in favor of a smoker's widow and created conflict with three other appellate courts by determining that the state's post-1999 punitive damages statute was applicable to the widow's case based on her husband's 2007 death rather than ruling that the pre-1999 statute should apply as the cancer diagnosis and commencement of the lawsuit both occurred in 1994, the widow argues in her merits brief filed Oct. 2 in the Florida Supreme Court (Mary E. Sheffield v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. SC19-601, Fla. Sup.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A smoker's daughter in a Sept. 30 merits brief asks the Florida Supreme Court to quash an appellate court's decision reversing a $6.4 million compensatory damages award and ordering a new trial, arguing that the panel's ruling on the standard of reliance required for Engle plaintiffs' to establish fraud claims conflicts with two other state appellate courts and a decade of Engle progeny case law (Linda Prentice v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, No. SC20-291, Fla. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 5 denied certiorari for United Parcel Service Inc.'s challenge to a $98 million damages award in favor of New York state and city for UPS's illegal shipments of untaxed cigarettes from Native American smoke shops (United Parcel Service, Inc. v. New York, et al., No. 19-1306, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A California court's award on remand of summary judgment to the state on its claims that an Indian tribe was selling unapproved cigarette brands from an out-of-state tribe stand after the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 5 denied the California tribe's petition for review (Native Wholesale Supply Company v. People of California ex rel. Xavier Becerra, No. 19-985, U.S. Sup.).
ST. LOUIS — A federal judge in Missouri on Sept. 18 granted a lifelong smoker's motion to remand to state court his product liability lawsuit against a tobacco company and a Missouri-based grocery chain and denied the defendants' motions to dismiss, finding that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because the defendants failed to establish that the chain was fraudulently joined or to prove that the chain could be dismissed under the state's "innocent seller" statute (Michael Thompson v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 20-980, E.D. Miss., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171072).
CHICAGO — Three tobacco companies on Sept. 28 filed a brief in a federal court in Illinois opposing a smoker's widow's motion to remand a wrongful death suit against them and Walgreen Co. to state court, asserting that the Illinois-based pharmacy was fraudulently joined to destroy diversity jurisdiction and that the plaintiff's negligence and product liability claims against Walgreen are "fatally flawed" (Lorraine M. Stone v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., et al., No. 20-5198, N.D. Ill.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Fourth District Florida Court of Appeal panel on Sept. 18 denied R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s motion for rehearing, rehearing en banc or certification to the Florida Supreme Court of its decision affirming a trial court's order that the tobacco company pay Florida $92.6 million and Philip Morris USA Inc. $9.8 million in outstanding liability from a 1997 settlement of cigarette-related claims brought by the state (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Florida, et al., No. 4D18-2616, Fla. App., 4th Dist.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. government and health groups in two Sept. 17 filings in a District of Columbia federal court agree that Philip Morris USA Inc. should be permitted to market its "HeatSticks" product with Food and Drug Administration-authorized "reduced exposure" claims but say the product should remain subject to other restrictions on tobacco products set forth in a previous court order because it is still "addictive" and "dangerous" (United States, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 99-2496, D. D.C.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida appellate panel on Sept. 22 heard arguments on tobacco companies' appeal asking that a jury verdict of nearly $6 million for a smoker's widower be vacated and remanded for a new trial due to alleged errors by the trial court, including allowing evidence regarding a type of lung cancer that they say was not linked to smoking in the original Engle trial (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al. v. Myron Kaplan, No. 4D18-2880, Fla. App., 4th Dist.).
ATLANTA — An 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 15 rejected R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s appeal challenging a $2,125,000 compensatory damages verdict for a smoker's widow and granted the widow's cross-appeal by remanding the case for a trial on punitive damages (Mary Sowers v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al., No. 18-11901, 11th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 29237).
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on Sept. 11 granted in part and denied in part e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc.'s motion to dismiss an ex-employee's whistleblower complaint against it and to strike parts of her complaint, finding that while most of her allegations failed to state a claim, she presented an argument that Juul violated California law by offering her pay after termination if she waived her right to bring certain claims against the company (Marcie Hamilton v. Juul Labs Inc., No. 20-3710, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166718).
CHICAGO — The Illinois attorney general on Sept. 10 filed a complaint in state court accusing California-based e-liquids manufacturer Juice Man LLC of violating state law by using youth-oriented marketing, selling fruit- and candy-flavored e-liquids and mislabeling nicotine content on certain e-liquid products (The People of the State of Illinois v. Juice Man, LLC, No. 20 CH 5812, Ill. Cir., Cook Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The California federal judge overseeing the pending multidistrict litigation against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. on Sept. 9 ordered that the first bellwether personal injury trial in the MDL will begin in February 2022 with four more slated to start later that year (In Re: Juul Labs, Inc., Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2913, No. 19-md-2913, N.D. Calif.).
TORONTO — E-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. and its affiliate Juul Labs Canada Ltd. on Aug. 5 filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in Canadian Federal Court against three individuals and two companies in Quebec that it alleges are illegally purchasing and importing Juul products, including those with flavors and high nicotine content, and then reselling or exporting the products in regions where those specific types of Juul products are unavailable or prohibited, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia (Juul Labs, Inc., et al. v. 2970201 Canada Inc., et al., No. T-867-20, Canada Fed.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A shareholder of Altria Group Inc. filed a shareholder derivative action on Aug. 27 in California federal court accusing the tobacco company's executives, e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. and Juul executives of harming Altria shareholders due to an estimated $50 billion in market capitalization losses that allegedly were caused by Altria's $12.8 billion investment in Juul (Maria Cecilia Lorca, derivatively on behalf of Altria Group Inc. v. William F. Gifford, Jr., et al., No. 20-6041, N.D. Calif.).
SEATTLE — The attorney general of the state of Washington on Sept. 2 filed a consumer protection lawsuit in the state's King County Superior Court against e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. and its prior parent company, Pax Labs Inc., alleging that they should face fines of $5,000 per violation for "hundreds of thousands" of unlicensed e-cigarette product sales into the state during a nearly two-year period and accusing the company of illegally marketing to youth and deceptively concealing the addictiveness of its products (Washington v. Juul Labs, Inc., et al., No. 20-2-13366-3, Wash. Super., King Co.).