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Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Tobacco Legal News

LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Tobacco Legal News

Headline Tobacco Legal News from LexisNexis®


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.).

Florida Appellate Panel Vacates $20 Million Tobacco Verdict
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on Nov. 30 vacated a $20 million verdict awarded to the estate of a woman following a trial in an Engle progeny suit after finding that the damages awarded by the jury were excessive (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Gwendolyn E. Odom, No. 4D14-3867, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 17713).

Jury Awards $10 Million In Engle Progeny Suit To Woman With COPD
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida jury on Nov. 15 awarded a woman found to have developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) $6 million in punitive damages, bringing the total award in her Engle progeny suit against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc. to $10 million (Mary Howles v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2007-CV-034919, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud., Broward Co.).

Florida Appellate Panel Remands Engle Suit To Disqualify Plaintiff's Attorney
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on Dec. 7 found that a trial court erred in denying Philip Morris USA Inc.'s motion to dismiss the law firm representing her because one of her attorneys previously represented Philip Morris in similar lawsuits, which prevents him from being the plaintiff's attorney under Florida law (Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Ada Caro, No. 4D16-2416, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 18077).

Florida Jury Awards More Than $6 Million In Tobacco Suit
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida state jury on Nov. 18 awarded $650,000 in punitive damages to a widower, bringing the total amount of damages in the Engle progeny trial to more than $6 million (Stanley Martin v. Philip Morris Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2007-CV-036440, Fla. 17th Jud. Cir., Broward Co.).

Ohio Court Finds Tobacco Use A Fact Question, Rejects Need For Medical Report
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Whether an asbestos plaintiff claiming lung cancer uses tobacco is a factual determination for a court and does not require a report from a competent medical authority, an Ohio appellate court held Nov. 17 (Bobby Turner, et al. v. CertainTeed Corp., et al., No. 103475, Ohio App., 8th Dist.; 2016 Ohio App. LEXIS 4647).

Judge Rejects Tobacco Risk Assumption, Contribution Defenses In Asbestos Case
BALTIMORE - Knowledge regarding the link between tobacco and lung cancer or the synergistic effects of tobacco and asbestos on the disease were not widely enough known to support defendants' assumption of risk and contributory negligence defenses, a Maryland judge held Nov. 7 (In re: Baltimore City Asbestos Litigation, Henry Boston, et al. v. ACandS Inc., et al., No. 24-X-16000054, Md. Cir., Baltimore City).

Maryland Judge Dismisses Negligence Suit Against Asbestos Manufacturer
BALTIMORE - A Maryland judge on Nov. 16 granted a defense motion for summary judgment and dismissed a suit claiming that five workers were never warned that smoking cigarettes while working with asbestos can lead to lung cancer (James Harrell, et al. v. ACandS Inc., et al., No. 24X16000053, Md. Cir., Baltimore Co.).

Massachusetts Woman Claims Negligence Against Tobacco Companies In State Court
BOSTON - A woman who developed lung cancer after years of smoking filed suit in Massachusetts state court on Dec. 9, claiming that the cigarettes she smoked were unreasonably dangerous and should not have been sold (Marie Kovatsi v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al., No. 1684CV03779, Mass. Super., Suffolk Co.).

Insurance Company Seeks Declaratory Judgment Against Tobacco Shop
SPOKANE, Wash. - An insurance company on Dec. 1 filed suit in Washington federal court, claiming that it does not have a responsibility to defend a tobacco shop in a lawsuit because the insurance policy does not cover bodily harm (Atlantic Casualty Insurance Company v. Lilac City Vapor LLC, et al., No. 2:16-cv-00422, E.D. Wash.).

Federal Judge Partially Grants, Denies Summary Judgment In Tobacco Contract Suit
RENO, Nev. - A federal judge in Nevada on Nov. 28 partially granted and partially denied a motion for summary judgment by a hotel, finding that a cigar wholesaler breached a contract it had with a hotel in Las Vegas (Wynn Las Vegas LLC v. Cigar Row LLC, No. 2:15-CV-01079, D. Nev.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163570).

Untaxed Cigarette Verdict Will Come Out In The New Year
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on Dec. 9 said she will not render a verdict in a bench trial over untaxed cigarettes until the new year (The State of New York, et al. v. United Parcel Service Inc., No. 15-cv-1136, S.D. N.Y.).

FDA Issues Warning Letters To 4 Tobacco Companies
WASHINGTON D.C. - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 9 issued warning letters to four tobacco manufacturers for allegedly violating the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, according to a press release.