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Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Tobacco Legal News

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Florida Supreme Court Denies Petition For Review Of Tobacco Suit
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on Aug. 30 denied an Engle progeny plaintiff's petition to hear a case where a $5.8 million verdict awarded to a smoker's widow was vacated and a new trial was ordered by a lower appellate court (Kathleen Gafney, as Personal Representative of the estate of Frank Eugene Gafney v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. SC16-693, Fla. Sup.; 2016 Fla. LEXIS 1943).



Florida Appellate Court Reinstates $5 Million In Punitives In Tobacco Suit
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Following the Florida Supreme Court decision in Hess v. Philip Morris USA, Inc. (175 So. 3d 687, 698 [Fla. 2015]) that held that defendants in Engle progeny suits may not rely on the Florida statute of repose as a defense, a Florida appellate panel on Aug. 31 reinstated $5 million in punitive damages to the family of a woman who died from lung cancer caused by smoking cigarettes (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. Sharon Putney, Nos. 4D10-3606, 4D10-5244, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 13217).



Florida Appellate Panel Affirms New Trial For Tobacco Companies
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - An appellate panel in Florida on Sept. 7 affirmed a trial court's decision to grant a new trial to two tobacco companies in an Engle progeny suit because the plaintiff's lawyer made prejudicial statements to the jury in closing arguments (David Cohen v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 4D13-2681, Fla. App. 4th Dist.).



Florida Jury Renders Defense Verdict In Tobacco Trial
DELAND, Fla. - A Florida jury on Aug. 25 found that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. was not responsible for the heart disease, lung cancer and death of a deceased health department worker whose daughter filed suit against the tobacco company (Debra Coursey v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2013-30656 CICI, Fla. 7th Jud. Cir., Volusia Co.).



Florida Jury Finds For Defense In Tobacco Lawsuit
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida jury on Sept. 6 found in favor of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in an Engle progeny case in which a man claimed that his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was caused by smoking cigarettes made by the tobacco company (John Hackimer, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2014-CA-010849, Fla. Jud. Cir. 15th, Palm Beach Co.).



Florida Jury Sides With R.J. Reynolds, Says Addiction Did Not Cause Heart Disease
MIAMI - A Florida jury found in favor of a tobacco company on Aug. 18, finding that a man's addiction to cigarettes was not the cause of his heart disease in an Engle [ee]progeny suit (William Wilkins, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 15-2007-CA-20, Fla. Cir., 11th Jud. Cir., Dade Co.).



Tobacco Company Seeks To Stop 2nd Circuit Review Of Trafficking Claims
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. - A Native American-owned tobacco company on Sept. 2 asked a federal judge in New York to stop the State of New York from appealing the court's decision to dismiss trafficking claims against it (State of New York v. Mountain Tobacco Company, d/b/a King Mountain Tobacco Company, Inc., No. 12-cv-6276, E.D. N.Y).



New York Federal Judge Denies Motion For Sanctions In Untaxed Tobacco Suit
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on Sept. 14 denied New York City and New York state's motion to impose sanctions on the attorneys representing United Parcel Service Inc. in a tobacco trafficking suit because the judge found that the city and state's failure to produce certain pieces of evidence during discovery was accidental (The State of New York, et al. v. United Parcel Service Inc., No. 15-cv-1136, S.D. N.Y.).



New York's Claims Against Indian Companies Fail, Magistrate Judge Says
BUFFALO, N.Y. - All claims by the State of New York alleging that two Indian enterprises are running a contraband cigarette ring that illegally brings millions of dollars' worth of cigarettes into New York from Canada should be dismissed because the state fails to plausibly allege that the companies violated federal laws, a federal magistrate judge recommended Aug. 30 (State of New York v. Grand River Enterprises Six Nations, Ltd., et al., No. 14-cv-910, W.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117801).



UPS Seeks To Exclude Evidence Of Damages In Cigarette Trafficking Suit
NEW YORK - United Parcel Service Inc. on Aug. 29 asked a federal judge in New York to bar the State of New York and New York City from presenting the amount of damages they are seeking against it in an upcoming cigarette trafficking trial (The State of New York, et al. v. United Parcel Service Inc., No. 15-cv-1136, S.D. N.Y.).



Maryland Opposes U.S. Supreme Court Review Of MSA Arbitration Ruling
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The State of Maryland on Sept. 8 filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court opposing a petition for writ of certiorari filed by a group of tobacco companies asking the high court to rule on the reach of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) and whether a Maryland appellate court erred by invalidating a multi-hundred-million-dollar arbitration award involving multiple states and a group of tobacco companies stemming from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al v. The State of Maryland, No. 15-1537, U.S. Sup.; 2016 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 3274).



D.C. Circuit Denies Motion For Rehearing, Rehearing En Banc In Tobacco Sales Suit
WASHINGTON D.C. - The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 19 denied a former tobacco seller's motion for rehearing or rehearing en banc of a case where the court determined that the seller was not the original source of information that Philip Morris USA Inc. was price gouging cigarettes at U.S. military outposts and dismissed his complaint against the tobacco company (United States, Ex Rel. Anthony Oliver v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 15-7049, D.C. Cir.).



Florida Court Reverses $8M Verdict, Orders Retrial For Tobacco Defendant
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - After rejecting an expert's testimony that every exposure to asbestos substantially contributes to developing mesothelioma, a Florida appeals court on Sept. 14 granted a directed verdict to a gasket company and ordered a new trial for a tobacco company (Crane Co., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and Hollingsworth & Vose Co. v. Richard DeLisle and Aline DeLisle, Nos. 4D13-4351, 4D14-146, Fla. App., 4th Dist.).



New York Jury Attributes Lung Cancer To Cigarettes In John Crane Asbestos Case
NEW YORK - A New York judge on Aug. 12 entered judgment on a July 21 verdict in which a jury found that cigarette use - and not asbestos exposure from John Crane Inc. - caused a man's lung cancer (Charles K. Zammit and Raye Zammit v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 190371/14, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).



Florida Jury Awards $5 Million To Widow In Tobacco Suit
MIAMI - A Florida jury on Aug. 15 awarded the estate of a man who died from lung cancer as a result of smoking cigarettes $5 million in compensatory damages after finding that the deceased was a member of the Engle class (Hazel Mathis v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2007-CA-47118, Fla. Cir., 11th Jud. Cir., Dade Co.).



Florida Appellate Court Upholds $1.3 Million Judgment For Tobacco Plaintiff
LAKELAND, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on Aug. 10 affirmed a $1.3 million verdict against two tobacco companies in an Engle progeny suit, saying the state law tort claims pursuant to the original Engle findings do not prohibit states from selling cigarettes (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. James Harris Lourie, No 2D14-5403, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.).



Federal Judge Denies Tobacco Plaintiff's Motion To Reinstate Punitives
MIAMI - A federal judge in Florida on Aug. 9 denied an Engle progeny plaintiff's motion seeking to reinstate $20 million in punitive damages because the issue the plaintiff raised on appeal is better suited for the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to rule on (Judith Berger v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 3:09-cv-14157, M.D. Fla.).



Mistrial Declared In Florida Tobacco Suit
MIAMI - After a "tragedy" came upon a juror in a tobacco product liability suit the morning before the jury was set to continue deliberations, a Florida judge on Aug. 5 declared a mistrial because there were not enough jurors to continue deliberations (Barbara Morales v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 07-16277-CA-04, Fla. Cir., 11th Jud. Cir., Dade Co.).



Florida Woman Files Engle Progeny Suit In Florida State Court
TAMPA, Fla. - A woman on Aug. 3 filed suit in Florida state court, claiming that two tobacco companies misled her about the dangers of smoking cigarettes, which caused her medical ailments (Betty Sue McDonald v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 16-CA-007249, Fla. Cir., 13th Jud. Cir., Hillsborough Co.).



Philip Morris Settles False Advertising Class Suit For $45 Million
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - On July 30, Philip Morris USA Inc. agreed to pay $45 million to a class of Arkansas smokers who claimed that the tobacco company falsely advertised the health effects of Marlboro Light cigarettes (Wayne Miner, et al. v. Philip Morris Companies Inc., No. CV03-4661, Ark. Cir., Pulaski Co.).



New York Federal Judge Grants Partial Judgment On RICO Claims For UPS
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on Aug. 9 granted the United Parcel Service Inc.'s motion for partial summary judgment on Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) claims brought against it by the State of New York and New York City because the plaintiffs have not presented enough evidence to show that UPS "participated in a RICO enterprise under governing precedent" by shipping untaxed cigarettes (The State of New York, et al. v. United Parcel Service Inc., No. 15-cv-1136, S.D. N.Y.).



Indian Cigarette Maker Wins Partial Victory On New York State's Claims
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. - A Native American cigarette manufacturer was awarded summary judgment July 21 in New York federal court on most federal cigarette tax claims filed against it by the State of New York but lost summary judgment on state law claims for failure to sell unstamped cigarettes to licensed stamping agents and failure to file annual manufacturing compliance certifications (State of New York v. Mountain Tobacco Company, d/b/a King Mountain Tobacco Company, Inc., No. 12-cv-6276, E.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95329).



Groups Ask D.C. Circuit Court To Lift E-Cigarette Ban On Flights
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A group of nonprofit organizations on Aug. 9 asked the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to dismiss a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rule that bars airplane passengers from using e-cigarettes while flying, saying the rule is improper because the DOT acted arbitrarily in setting the rule and did not consult opposing studies (Competitive Enterprise Institute, et al. v. United States Department of Transportation, et al., No.16-1128, D.C. Cir.).



Philip Morris Opposes Rehearing For Dismissed Tobacco Sales Suit
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Philip Morris USA Inc. says in an Aug. 8 brief that the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals should not grant a former tobacco seller's motion for rehearing or rehearing en banc of a case the panel already dismissed because the man who brought the suit is repeating arguments the panel already considered (United States, Ex Rel. Anthony Oliver v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 15-7049, D.C. Cir.).



Tobacco Company Says It Has Been Denied Discovery In Assessment Suit
SPOKANE, Wash. - A tobacco company says in an Aug. 2 response to a motion for summary judgment in Washington federal court that it should not be ordered to pay $6.3 million in statutory assessments and late fees under the Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 (FERTA) because it has not been given the opportunity to see how the government arrived at the amount of the assessment (United States of America v. King Mountain Tobacco Co. Inc., No. 1:14-cv-03162-RMP, E.D. Wash.).



California Federal Judge Orders Couple To Stop Using Tobacco Trademark
LOS ANGELES - A federal judge in California on Aug. 8 granted a motion for default judgment in favor of a hookah tobacco company that sued a couple who was using the company's trademarked brands and ordered the couple to pay $575,000 (Starbuzz Tobacco Inc. v. Issa Hilo, et al., No. SACV 16-0303 AG, C.D. Calif.).



German Glass Pipe Maker Sues Hookah Company For Selling Counterfeits
MIAMI - A German corporation known for selling water pipes and hookahs on Aug. 9 filed suit in federal court in Florida against a hookah company for allegedly selling counterfeit products (ROOR v. Hookah, Tobacco and Sun Inc., No. 0:16-cv-61902, S.D. Fla.).



R.J. Reynolds Seeks Inter Partes Review Of Electronic Cigarette Patent
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A patented electronic cigarette is not entitled to the filing date of a parent patent pursuant to rulings by the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in ICU Medical, Inc. v. Alaris Medical Systems, Inc. (558 F.3d 1368 [Fed. Cir. 2009]), Research Corp. Techs. v. Microsoft Corp. (627 F.3d at 871-872 [Fed. Cir. 2010]) and Anascape v. Nintendo of America Inc. (601 F.3d at 1334, 1340 [Fed. Cir. 2010]), according to an Aug. 5 petition for inter partes review filed with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company v. Fontem Holdings I BV, No. IPR2016-01532, PTAB).



High Court Rules For RJR In RICO Case
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court today held that although the presumption against extraterritoriality has been rebutted with respect to certain applications of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act's (RICO) substantive prohibitions in 18 U.S. Code Section 1961, the private right of action under Section 1964(c) does not authorize suit in U.S. courts by the European Community and 26 of its members (collectively, EC) on allegations that RJR Nabisco Inc. engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity, including cigarette smuggling and money laundering (RJR Nabisco, Inc., et al. v. The European Community, et al., No. 15-138, U.S. Sup.).



Tobacco Companies Seek Supreme Court Review Of FAA Ruling In Maryland
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A group of tobacco companies filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on June 22 seeking to certify two questions over the Federal Arbitration Act and whether a Maryland appellate court erred by invalidating a multi-hundred-million dollar arbitration settlement between the state and a group of tobacco companies stemming from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the states and tobacco companies (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al v. The State of Maryland. No. 15-1537, U.S. Sup.).



Tobacco Companies Reiterate Divide Among State Courts In FAA Question
WASHINGTON D.C. - A group of tobacco companies reiterated to the U.S. Supreme Court on July 5 that it should review a case involving the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between a group of tobacco companies and states over whether the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts state laws because there is a divide among the state courts of last resort (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. 15-1299, U.S. Sup.).



U.S. High Court Denies Petition For Writ Of Cert In Illinois Smokers' Appeal
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on June 20 denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by Illinois smokers seeking to challenge an Illinois Supreme Court justice's participation in reversing a $10 billion verdict in a tobacco case based on the justice's alleged acceptance of funding for his campaign from Philip Morris and other tobacco companies and verbal support of the tobacco industry (Sharon Price, et al. v. Philip Morris USA, Inc. No. 15-947. U.S. Sup.; 2016 U.S. LEXIS 4032).



Jury Awards $1.5 Million To Widow Of Woman Who Died From Smoking
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida jury on July 19 awarded the husband of a woman who died from lung cancer $1.5 million in damages against Philip Morris USA Inc. after finding that the woman was addicted to cigarettes and that her addiction was a legal cause of her death (Joseph Varner v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-CV-026345, 17th Jud. Cir. Broward Co.).



Florida Jury Finds Smoking Not Cause Of Engle Progeny Plaintiff's Death
MIAMI - A Florida jury on June 21 found that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc. were not responsible for the death of a woman whose husband and daughter claimed that she died from smoking cigarettes made by both companies (Leisa Mooney, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 2011-CA-40815, Fla. Cir., 11th Jud. Cir., Dade Co.).



Florida Jury Awards $68,300 In Punitives To Engle Progeny Plaintiff
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A state jury in Florida on July 6 awarded the estate of a woman who died from lung cancer caused by smoking cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc. $68,300 in punitive damages, bringing the total award to $133,300 (Michael Sermons v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-CA-000397, Fla. 4th Jud. Cir., Duval Co.).



D.C. Circuit Panel Affirms Dismissal In Cigarette Sales Suit
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 21 affirmed a lower court order dismissing a complaint alleging that Philip Morris USA Inc. violated the terms of a contract by overcharging military exchanges for cigarettes because the transactions "creating an inference of fraud were publicly disclosed" (United States, Ex Rel. Anthony Oliver v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 15-7049, D.C. Cir.).



Vaping Company Seeks Summary Judgment In Regulation Suit Against FDA
WASHINGTON D.C. - A Florida vaping company that sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration claiming that its new regulations on tobacco will be burdensome filed a motion for summary judgment on July 8 in a District of Columbia federal court, saying the new regulations the FDA will impose violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Nicopure Labs LLC v. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 1:16-cv-00878. D. D.C.).



3 Cigar Rights Groups Sue FDA Over New Tobacco Rules
WASHINGTON, D.C.- A trio of cigar rights groups on July 15 filed suit against the Food and Drug Administration, claiming that its new rules and regulations on tobacco and tobacco products violate the U.S. Food Drug and Cosmetic Act because they subject all tobacco products to stricter regulations than prescribed in the act (Cigar Association of America, et al. v. Food and Drug Administration, No. 1:16-cv-01460, D. D.C.).



United States Asks Court To Force Tobacco Company To Pay Fine With Interest
SPOKANE, Wash. - The United States on July 5 asked a federal judge in Washington in a motion for summary judgment to force King Mountain Tobacco Co. Inc. to pay $6.3 million in statutory assessments and late payment interest (United States of America v. King Mountain Tobacco Co. Inc., No. 1:14-cv-03162-RMP, E.D. Wash.).



Alabama Vaping Companies Sue FDA Over New Tobacco Regulations
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Three vaping companies based in Alabama on July 8 filed suit against the Food and Drug Administration in federal court, claiming that the agency's new rules and regulations against tobacco products, including vaping products, will place an undue burden on them and risk putting them out of business (Cyclops Vapor 2 LLC, et al. v. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 2:16-cv-00556, M.D. Ala.).



Asbestos-Tobacco Case Too Late, But Joinder Not Impossible, Maryland Court Says
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Joinder of tobacco defendants for their alleged "synergistic" role in a lung cancer case in Maryland's special asbestos docket came too late, but may be permissible in the future, the state's top court held July 5 (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Inc., et al. v. Douglas Stidham, etc., et al., No. 77 September Term 2015, Md. App.).



Tobacco Company Sues Collective Of Cannabis Companies Over Trademark Use
NEW YORK - A tobacco company based in the British West Indies filed suit on June 24 in a New York federal court against a group of companies with common ownership for allegedly using a name on their products that the tobacco company had already trademarked (Montobacco Limited v. Marley Green LLC, et al., No. 1:16cv-04926, S.D. N.Y.).



California Federal Judge Reduces Award In Hookah Copyright Suit
LOS ANGELES - A federal judge in California on July 11 partially granted a defense motion for a directed verdict, reducing by $800,000 a jury award against a retailer that sold a copyrighted hookah without the maker's permission because two of the flavors it sold were not counterfeited Kaloud Inc. v. Shisha Land Wholesale Inc., No. 2:15-cv-3706, C.D. Calif.).



California Attorneys File 2 Suits Alleging E-Cigarette Injuries
A pair of Los Angeles attorneys on July 11 filed complaints in two California superior courts, accusing e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers of products liability, negligence and breach of warranty after two of their clients were injured while using them (Thomas Vickrey v. The Vapor Spot Vapor Bar, et al., No. BC626478, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.; Juan Carlos Ceja v. Vapor World 2, Inc., et al., No. CIVDS1610921, Calif. Super., San Bernardino Co.).



Natural American Spirit Cigarette Smokers Sue, Alleging False Advertising
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Two smokers of Natural American Spirit cigarettes on June 21 filed a putative class action in federal court against the manufacturers, alleging that they falsely advertise, label and market the cigarettes as "Natural," "Additive Free," "100 Percent Additive Free" and "Organic" (Jason Cole, et al. v. Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Inc., et al., No. 1:16-cv-006787, M.D. N.C.).