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Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Tobacco Legal News

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Florida Jury Awards $5.4 Million To Family In Engle Progeny Suit
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A Florida jury on Feb. 14 awarded a total of $5.4 million to a family after finding that two tobacco companies were responsible for a woman's addiction to cigarettes, which led to her lung cancer and death (John Brown v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 15-002451-CI, Fla. 6th Jud. Cir. Pasco Co.).



Florida Appeals Panel Orders New Trial In Engle Progeny Suit
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on Feb. 24 found that the attorneys for a woman who sued a tobacco company for the death of her husband made improper comments during closing arguments that violated a judge's order and ordered a new trial (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Cynthia Robinson, No. 1D15-0989, Fla. App., 1st Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 2535).



Florida Appeals Panel Affirms $18 Million Verdict In Tobacco Suit
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel majority on Feb. 24 affirmed an $18 million verdict in an Engle progeny suit after finding that the trial judge did not err in failing to dismiss a juror and in not reducing the total award (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. Andy R. Allen Sr., No. 1D15-4197, Fla. App., 1st Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 2536).



Tobacco Company Seeks New Trial Following $6 Million Engle Progeny Verdict
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on March 10 moved for a new trial in an Engle progeny suit that resulted in a $6 million verdict, saying that the plaintiff introduced surprising and previously undisclosed testimony that her deceased husband suffered a heart attack before Nov. 21, 1996, and that the jury form likely confused and misled the jury about the findings it was required to make regarding her husband's membership in the Engle class (Blanche Fox v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 2008-CV-026348, Fla. 17th Jud. Cir. Broward Co.).



Florida Appellate Panel Affirms Summary Judgment In Tobacco Lawsuit
MIAMI - A Florida appellate panel on Feb. 22 affirmed a trial court's grant of summary judgment to a tobacco company in an Engle progeny suit in an opinion without any explanation (Carmen Stagg v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co, et al., No. 3D16-157, Fla. App. 3rd Dist. Miami-Dade Co.).



Tobacco Companies Appeal $6 Million Verdict In Tobacco Suit
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Philip Morris USA Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on Feb. 27 filed a notice of appeal with Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal over an Engle progeny suit in which the jury awarded the plaintiff $6 million (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. Stanley Martin, No. 4D17-574, Fla. App., 4th Dist.).



Engle Progeny Plaintiff Moves For Extension To File For Rehearing
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A plaintiff in an Engle progeny suit on March 8 moved for an extension of time to file a motion for a rehearing or a written opinion following an order from the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal that affirmed a defense verdict in a tobacco trial, according the online docket (Dorothy Haliburton v. R.J. Reynolds, No. 4D15-1819, Fla. App. 4th Dist.).



California Federal Judge Awards $2.1M In Attorney Fees To Tobacco Company
SANTA ANA, Calif. - A federal judge in California on Feb. 27 awarded a tobacco company $2.1 million in attorney fees in a suit brought by a tobacco company that alleged that another tobacco company violated the terms of a contract (Trendsettah USA Inc., et al. v. Swisher International Inc., No. 8:14-cv-01664, C.D. Calif., Southern Div.).



Pennsylvania Department Of Revenue Removes Vaping Tax Suit To Federal Court
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue on March 9 removed a suit in which it is accused of creating an overly broad list of e-cigarette and tobacco products under the Tobacco Products Act of Pennsylvania that are taxed to federal court in Pennsylvania because many of the claims are based in federal law (Kingdom Vapor, et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, No. 3:02-at-06000, M.D. Pa.).



Buyer Seeks To Litigate Tobacco Suit In Delaware Chancery Court
WILMINGTON, Del. - ITG Brands on Feb. 17 sued Reynolds American Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJRT) (collectively the Reynolds defendants) in the Delaware Chancery Court, seeking an injunction that would force the Reynolds defendants to dismiss their complaint against ITG in Florida state court over the sale of four cigarette brands to ITG Brands in conjunction with the Reynolds defendants' takeover of Lorillard Tobacco Co. ITG is seeking to resolve the claims in the Chancery Court (ITG Brands LLC v. Reynolds American Inc., et al., No. 2017-0129, Del. Chanc.).



7th Circuit: Indiana Law On E-Cigarette Manufacturing Is Unconstitutional
CHICAGO - A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 30 found that an Indiana law that regulates the manufacturing and distribution of vapor pens and liquids used in e-cigarettes violates the dormant commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, reversing a grant of summary judgment to the state and remanding to the trial court with instructions to declare the challenged provisions of the law unenforceable against out-of-state manufacturers (Legato Vapors LLC, et al. v. David Cook, et al., No. 16-3071, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 1598).



Federal Judge In New York Grants Summary Judgment In Tobacco Tax Suit
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - A federal judge in New York on Jan. 23 granted summary judgment to a group of government officials and dismissed the complaints brought by two Native American nations with prejudice after finding that an amendment to a tax on Native American-made cigarettes does not violate the tribes' right to tribal sovereignty (Seneca Nation of Indians, et al. v. David Patterson, et al., No. 1:10-cv-00687, W.D. N.Y.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9060).



Illinois Judge Grants Partial Summary Judgment To Stores In Tobacco Tax Suit
CHICAGO - An Illinois judge on Jan. 20 found that a new tax Chicago imposed on tobacco products other than cigarettes violates an Illinois state law and granted partial summary judgment to a group of tobacco stores who sued the city (Iwan Ries & Co., et al. v. City of Chicago, et al., No. 2016-L-050356, Ill. Cir., Cook Co.).



Florida High Court Stays Review Of $17M Award Pending 2 Other Cases
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on Feb. 7 stayed a case in which a jury awarded $5.7 million in compensatory damages and $11.6 million in punitive damages to the widow of a longtime smoker who alleged that his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer were caused by his addiction to cigarettes manufactured by Philip Morris USA Inc. (Vickie McKeever, etc. v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., No. SC17-198, Fla. Sup.).



Florida Jury Finds For Tobacco Company In Tobacco Suit
SEBRING, Fla. - A Florida state jury on Feb. 8 rendered a verdict in favor of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in an Engle progeny trial after it found that a woman who was addicted to cigarettes knew or should have known that she had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by the Engle claim cutoff date (Angela Durance v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 11-26-GCS, Fla. 10th Jud. Cir., Highlands Co.).



Federal Judge Remands Cigarette False Advertising Suit To D.C. Superior Court
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Feb. 8 remanded a false advertising suit against Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc. to a lower court after finding that it would be improper to consider the future brand value of its Natural American Spirit cigarettes when determining the cost of an injunction sought by an anti-smoking group and that the amount in controversy is not satisfied for federal jurisdiction (Breathe DC v. Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc., et al., No. 1:16-cv-2378, D. D.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17562).



Suit Filed Over Exploding Vaping Device In California State Court
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A man filed a product liability suit on Feb. 9 against a tobacco shop that sold him a vape and the makers of the vape and its parts after the device exploded and caused him to burn himself (Christopher Crowder v. Tobacco Expo, et al., No. RIC 1702394, Calif. Super., Riverside Co.).



Man Sues 2 Tobacco Companies For Death Of His Wife
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A widower of a woman who died from lung cancer filed suit in California state court on Feb. 8 against two tobacco companies, claiming that they knew about the dangers of smoking and did not warn the public about the dangers of smoking (Julian Engel v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 34-2017-00207704, Calif. Super., Sacramento Co.).



Magistrate Judge: Migrant Tobacco Workers To Be Deposed In Mexico
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A federal magistrate judge in Kentucky on Feb. 3 found that the owners of a tobacco farm who were sued for allegedly violating federal work visa laws will not face an undue hardship by having to depose a group of migrant workers in Mexico, denying the owners' motion for a protective order that would prohibit the depositions from taking place in Mexico (Martin Rico Murillo, et al. v. Tracy Dillard, et al., No. 1:15-CV-00069, W.D. Ky., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15391).



Mexican Farm Workers Settle Employment Suit With Tobacco Farmer
LEXINGTON, Ky. - A federal judge in Kentucky on Feb. 6 signed a final order canceling a trial scheduled for March following an $81,308.71 settlement between a group of Mexican migrant workers who claimed that the owners of farms they worked at underpaid them and violated federal labor laws (Cecillo Gutierrez-Morales, et al. v. Earl Lee Planck Jr., et al., No. 5:15-cv-158, E.D. Ky.).



North Carolina High Court Affirms Class Certification In Tobacco-Pricing Suit
RALEIGH, N.C. - The North Carolina Supreme Court on Dec. 21 found that a trial court was right to certify a class of farmers who were members of a tobacco cooperative and alleged that it expelled them and used money they helped to generate after finding that there was not a conflict of interest between one of the class representatives and the rest of the plaintiff class and that nothing in North Carolina law precludes class certification (Kaye W. Fisher, et al. v. Flue-Cured Tobacco Cooperative Stabilization Corporation, No. 374A14, N.C. Sup.; 2016 N.C. LEXIS 1120).



9th Circuit Panel Says Yakama Nation's Tax Claims Barred By Anti-Injunction Act
SEATTLE - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 13 vacated a district court's order granting summary judgment to the federal government and remanded a suit brought by a Native American tribe over tobacco taxes with directions to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the claims brought by the tribe are barred by the Anti-Injunction Act (Confederated Tribes And Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation v. Alcohol and Trade Tobacco Bureau, et al., No. 14-35165, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 22103).



New York Appeals Panel Affirms Public Vaping Ban In New York City
NEW YORK - A New York appellate panel on Jan. 3 affirmed the constitutionality of a ban on e-cigarettes or vaping devices in schools, restaurants and outdoor public spaces in New York City because the "one-subject rule" in the state's constitution does not apply to local laws (NYC CLASH v. City of New York, No. 152723/142014, N.Y. Sup., App. Div.; 1st Dept.; 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 41).



Tobacco Wholesalers Sue Pennsylvania Over Items In New Tobacco Tax
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A electronic cigarette wholesaler and vaping store in Pennsylvania on Dec. 22 filed a petition in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court for injunctive relief from a new tax on e-cigarettes and e-cigarette parts and declaratory judgment to clarify what items are taxable under the new law (Kingdom Vapor, et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, No. 697-MD-2016, Pa. Cmwlth.).



United States Sues Cigar Manufacturer Over Failure To Pay Fines Under FERTA
NEW YORK - The United States on Jan. 14 filed suit against a cigar manufacturer in New York federal court, alleging that the company failed to make payments after a civil fine was imposed against it under a law that was created to transition the tobacco industry to a free market (United States of America v. La Casa Grande Tobacco Corporation, No. 17-CV-225, S.D. N.Y.).



Florida Appeals Panel Remands Tobacco Suit With Order To Reduce Damages
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on Jan. 4 found that a trial court erred in not reducing the compensatory award by the comparative fault the jury found in an Engle progeny suit brought by a man whose wife died from lung cancer related to her smoking (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Jan Grossman, No. 4D13-3949, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 50).



Tobacco Companies File Notice Of Appeal On $10 Million Tobacco Verdict
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Two tobacco companies on Jan. 4 notified a Florida appellate court that they would be jointly appealing a $10 million verdict in an Engle progeny suit, saying the trial court erred by failing to grant their post-trial motions for a new trial and for a directed verdict (Philip Morris, et al. v. Mary Howles, 4D17-31, Fla. App., 4th Dist.).



Daughter Of Smoker Files Tobacco Suit In Florida State Court
TAMPA, Fla. - The daughter of a woman who died from chronic obstructive [ee]pulmonary disorder (COPD) filed suit against three tobacco companies in Florida state court on Jan. 10 pursuant to the Engle findings (Angelia Garrett v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., et al., No. 17-CA-000242, Fla. Cir. Hillsborough Co.).



Native American-Owned Tobacco Company Settles Suit With Tobacco Distributor
ATLANTA - A Native American-owned tobacco company on Jan. 9 dismissed its suit in Georgia federal court against a cigarette distributor that sold expired cigarettes to retailers without the manufacturer's permission after the parties agreed to a confidential settlement (Grand River Enterprises Six Nations LTD., et al. v. National Distributors Inc., et al., No 1:16-cv-423, N.D. Ga.).



Santa Fe Tobacco Seeks To Keep Deceptive Marketing Suit In Federal Court
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc. on Jan. 11 told a federal judge in the District of Columbia that a deceptive marketing suit against it should stay in federal court, arguing that the cost of complying with the injunctive relief sought exceeds the $75,000 threshold regardless of whether the court finds that the named plaintiff, Breathe DC, is the only plaintiff or finds that there are multiple plaintiffs (Breathe DC v. Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc., et al., No. 1:16-cv-2378, D. D.C.).