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Oklahoma Supreme Court Finds New Tobacco Tax Unconstitutional
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Aug. 10 found that a tobacco tax labeled as a "smoking cessation fee" is a revenue-raising tax because the money generated from it is being used to balance the state's budget and, therefore, that it should be stricken in its entirety (James P. Naifeh, et al. v. State of Oklahoma, et al., No. 116102, Okla. Sup.).



Mich. Appeals Panel Remands Tobacco Product Seizure Suit For Further Proceedings
DETROIT - A panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals on Aug. 1 reversed summary disposition for a tobacco seller and remanded the suit over the forfeiture and seizure of tobacco products to the trial court to determine if the forfeiture was proper (Value, Inc. v. Department of Treasury, No. 331581, Mich. App., 2017 Mich. App. LEXIS 1235).



N.J. Tax Court Judge Denies, Grants Summary Judgment Motions In Tobacco Tax Suit
TRENTON, N.J. - In an unpublished opinion, a New Jersey Tax Court judge on Aug. 9 found that a cigar wholesaler is not immune from a state tax on tobacco because it did not keep adequate records showing that it sold tobacco to an out-of-state buyer (Cigar Stop Inc. v. Director of the Division of Taxation, No. 015587-2014, N.J. Tax, 2017 N.J. Tax Unpub. LEXIS 46).



D.C. Circuit Court Upholds Ban Of Using E-Cigarettes On Planes
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals majority on July 21 upheld a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rule that prohibits the use of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices on airplanes because the law banning the devices from planes benefits the health of the passengers (Competitive Enterprise Institute, et al. v. United States Department of Transportation, et al., No.16-1128, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 13112).



South Dakota Federal Judge Denies Motion To Amend Religious Tobacco Use Order
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A federal judge in South Dakota on Aug. 9 denied a motion brought by a group of plaintiffs seeking to increase the amount of tobacco used in a religious mixture for Native American religious ceremonies in prison after finding that the amount the court already allowed was sufficient for religious ceremonies (Native American Council of Tribes, et al. v. Douglas Weber, et al., No. 4:09-CV-4182, D. S.D., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125754).



Florida Jury Awards $4 Million To Widow Of Smoker In Engle Progeny Suit
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - After finding that a man who died from laryngeal cancer was addicted to cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., a Florida jury on July 28 awarded his widow $4 million in damages (Bertie Thomas v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2007-CV-036432[19], Fla. 17th Jud. Cir. Broward Co.).



Florida Jury Finds For Defense In Engle Progeny Suit
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida jury on July 25 found in favor of Philip Morris USA Inc. after finding that a man who died from lung cancer was not addicted to cigarettes made by Philip Morris and that his lung cancer and death was not caused by an addiction to those cigarettes (Judith Pearson v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 2007-CA-017823, Fla. 13th Jud. Cir. Hillsborough Co.).



Florida Jury Awards $1.6 Million To Plaintiff In Retrial Of Engle Progeny Lawsuit
FORT MYERS, Fla. - In a retrial of an Engle progeny suit, a Florida jury on July 18 found that a woman's lung cancer and death were caused by her addiction to cigarettes and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s failure to warn her about the dangers of smoking and awarded her husband $1.65 million (John Maloney v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 07-CA-015578, Fla. 20th Jud. Cir., Lee Co.).



Florida Panel Partially Affirms, Reverses New Damages Trial In Tobacco Suit
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A panel of the First District Florida Court of Appeal on July 24 affirmed a trial court's decision to grant a new trial on noneconomic damages in an Engle progeny suit, but the panel split on reversing the trial court's decision to grant a new trial on punitive damages (Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Micah Danielson, No. 1D16-234, Fla. App., 1st Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 10603).



$13 Million Verdict For Deceased Smoker's Family Affirmed
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel in an Aug. 3 opinion without explanation affirmed a $13 million verdict for the family of a deceased woman in an Engle progeny case (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Vivian Turner, No. 4D16-2625, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 11300).



Dismissal Denied For Tobacco Product Distributor In Trademark Infringement Suit
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois on Aug. 7 denied a motion to dismiss brought by a counterdefendant in a tobacco product trademark infringement suit after finding that the court had jurisdiction over the counterclaims because the counterdefendant, which is based in California, has done business in Illinois (Republic Technologies, et al. v. BBK Tobacco & Foods, No. 16-CV-3401, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124673).



Candy Company Files Suit Against E-Cigarette Shop Over Trademark Infringement
CHICAGO - A candy company on July 13 filed suit in Illinois federal court against a tobacco shop, its holding company and its owner, claiming that the store has been using the candy company's trademarks and putting them on e-cigarette flavors it sells without the candy company's permission (WM. Wrigley Jr. Company v. Chi-Town Vapers LLC, et al., No. 17-CV-5185, N.D. Ill.).



Man Files Suit After Injury From E-Cigarette Battery Explosion
TACOMA, Wash. - A man filed suit in Washington state court on July 18, claiming that a battery he bought for his e-cigarette was defective and blew up while in his pocket, which caused second-degree burns on his right leg (Nathan Holdener v. Green Lake Inc., No. 17-2-09949-5, Wash. Super., Pierce Co.).



Florida Appeals Panel Reverses Defense Verdict In Tobacco Lawsuit
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on July 5 reversed a defense verdict for three tobacco companies in an Engle progeny suit after finding that the trial court erred in allowing a pulmonologist who was not qualified to testify on addiction to testify about the plaintiff's motivation to quit smoking (Fannie Collar v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 4D15-3893, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 9637).



Florida Appeals Panel Affirms Summary Judgment In Tobacco Lawsuit
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on June 21 affirmed a trial court's decision to grant summary judgment to a tobacco company in a wrongful death suit because a man who died from smoking-related diseases was not an Engle class member and, therefore, the woman representing his estate cannot be considered an Engle class member and she filed the suit after the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim had expired (Donna Fanali v. R.J. Reynolds, No. 4D16-67, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 8987).



Florida Appeals Panel Upholds $14 Million Tobacco Verdict
LAKELAND, Fla. - A panel of the Second District Florida Court of Appeal on July 14 affirmed a $14 million verdict in an Engle progeny suit without explanation and certified a conflict with another suit over comparative fault (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. Ina E. Ahrens, No. 2D16-1651, Fla. App., 2nd Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 10146).



Tobacco Companies Petition Florida High Court Over Attorney Fees Decisions
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Two tobacco companies that were ordered to pay $32 million in damages following an Engle progeny suit petitioned the Florida Supreme Court on June 21 over a lower court ruling that they had to pay the plaintiffs' attorney fees because the lower court's decision created a conflict with the other state appellate courts (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. Richard Boatright, et al., No. SC17-897, Fla. Sup.).



2nd Circuit Panel Orders New Trial Over Punitives In Tobacco Suit
NEW YORK - A panel of the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 7 ordered a new trial on punitive damages only in a suit brought by a woman who claimed that a defect in her cigarettes caused her larynx cancer following a Connecticut Supreme Court decision that held that Connecticut's common-law rule, which limits punitive damages, does not apply to an award of statutory punitive damages (Barbara A. Izzarelli v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Nos. 11-3865, 113890, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12125).



Florida Appeals Panel Reinstates Full Verdict In Tobacco Death Suit
MIAMI - A Florida appellate panel on June 28 reversed a trial court's decision to hold a new trial against a tobacco company on a product liability claim because the jury instructions did not mislead the jury; the panel reinstated the full verdict (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Paul R. Larkin, et al., No. 3D16-910, Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 9422).



Virgin Islands Judge Consolidates 2 Tobacco Suits
ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands - A Virgin Islands judge on July 10 ordered the consolidation of two separate wrongful death suits against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. for trial because they present nearly identical issues of law against the same defendant (Jevon Gerald v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. ST-10-CV-631, Christian Brown v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. ST-10-CV-692, Virgin Islands Super., St. Thomas, 2017 V.I. LEXIS 102).



Florida High Court Will Review Asbestos Causation Experts, Resulting $8M Award
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court agreed to decide the proper standard for admitting expert causation testimony in the state when on July 11 it accepted a case that originally resulted in an $8 million asbestos award against tobacco and gaskets companies (Richard DeLisle v. Crane Co., et al., No. SC16-2182, Fla. Sup.).



Florida Federal Judge Dismisses Counterfeit Tobacco Pipe Lawsuit
MIAMI. - A federal judge in Florida on July 7 denied a glass-pipe maker's motion for default judgment in a copyright infringement suit and dismissed the suit without prejudice after finding that the plaintiff "lacks standing to pursue its federal claims" and the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction (Sream Inc. v. Mayasam, Inc., No. 16-cv-24825, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106100).



California AG Sues Canadian Tobacco Company For Illegal Cigarette Sales
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The California Office of Attorney General on July 7 filed suit against a Canadian tobacco company in California state court, claiming that the company illegally sold cigarettes in California and broke other state laws (People of the State of California v. Grand River Enterprises Six Nations LTD, No. 34-2017-00215131, Calif. Super., Sacramento Co.).



Federal Judge Orders UPS To Pay More Than $240M For Shipping Untaxed Cigarettes
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on May 25 ordered United Parcel Service Inc. to pay a total of $246,975,614 after finding in March that UPS knowingly shipped cigarettes to unauthorized sellers and on behalf of those sellers to residents in New York (The State of New York, et al. v. United Parcel Service Inc., No. 15-cv-1136, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43495).



Judge: Tribes Must Follow Cigarette Trafficking Act's Record-Keeping Regulations
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The record-keeping provisions of the Contraband Cigarettes Trafficking Act (CCTA) applies to tribal entities for tobacco sales on as well as off the reservation, a District of Columbia federal judge ruled May 24 (Ho-Chunk, Inc., et al. v. Jeff Sessions, in his official capacity as Attorney General of the United States, et al., No. 16-cv-01652, D. D.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79397).



Tobacco Companies Sue Oklahoma Government Over New Tax On Cigarettes
OKLAHOMA CITY - Philip Morris USA Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on June 7 joined Oklahoma tobacco wholesalers in filing a writ of prohibition to the state Supreme Court over the government's attempt to pass a tax that would require tobacco wholesalers to pay an additional $1.50 per pack of cigarettes (James P. Naifeh, et al. v. State of Oklahoma, et al., No. 116102, Okla. Sup.).



FDA Sued Over Allowing 'Natural' To Be Part Of Cigarette's Brand
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A man on June 6 filed suit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Thomas Price, the secretary of HHS, in Florida federal court, saying the defendants violated federal law by allowing a tobacco company to use the word "natural" in the brand name and trademarks (Justin Sproule v. United States Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 9:17-cv-80709, S.D. Fla.).



11th Circuit Finds Federal Law Does Not Preempt Engle Progeny Claims
ATLANTA - A majority of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in an en banc decision on May 18 ruled that federal law does not preempt smokers from filing negligence suits against tobacco companies and affirmed a $2.75 million verdict in an Engle progeny suit (Theresa Graham v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 13-14590, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8718).



Jury Awards $2.4 Million To Former Smoker In Engle Progeny Suit
MIAMI - A Florida state court jury on May 19 awarded a woman who developed lung cancer from smoking $1.3 million in punitive damages, bringing the total award to $2.4 million in the suit where she claimed that the misinformation spread about the harmfulness and addictive nature of cigarettes by a tobacco company led to her lung cancer (Linda Martin v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 07-34267-CA, Fla. 11th Jud. Cir., Dade Co.).



Florida Judge Declares Mistrial In Engle Progeny Lawsuit
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Florida state court judge on May 23 declared a mistrial in an Engle progeny suit in which a woman claimed that a tobacco company hid the dangers of smoking from her husband, which led to his lung cancer and death, because the judge gave contradictory jury instructions that may confuse the jury (Lorraine Olson v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008-CA-00396, Fla. 4th Jud. Cir., Duval Co.).



Jury Finds For Tobacco Companies In Engle Progeny Trial
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida state court jury on June 2 found in favor of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc. in a suit where a man and his wife claimed that the man developed bladder cancer because of his addiction to cigarettes made by the two tobacco companies (Steven Kogan, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 2007CA023657, Fla. 15th Jud. Cir. Palm Beach Co.).



Jurors Disagrees On Compensatory Damages In Engle Progeny Suit
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - A Florida judge on June 15 declared a mistrial in an Engle progeny suit after the jury deadlocked on compensatory damages and attorneys for Philip Morris USA Inc. argued that there cannot be a compromise verdict (Jo Freeman v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 2015CA003930, Fla., 8th Jud. Cir., Alachua Co.)



Federal Judge Finds Georgia's Tobacco Regulations Constitutional
ATLANTA - A federal judge in Georgia on May 30 found that he does not have jurisdiction to preside over claims that Georgia's tobacco regulations do not violate state law or the U.S. Constitution and granted the state's motion to dismiss in a suit over the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between tobacco companies and the state (S&M Brands v. State of Georgia ex rel. Christopher M. Carr, No. 1:16-CV-4469, N.D. Ga., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86093, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86093).



Delaware Judge Denies Motion For Class Certification In Tobacco Suit
WILMINGTON, Del. - A judge in Delaware state court on May 30 denied a motion filed by a plaintiff in a tobacco product suit to certify a class of Delaware smokers who spent money on Marlboro lights and denied the tobacco company's motion for summary judgment because the plaintiff's claims arise from state law, not federal law (Mary A. Carroll, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 03C-08-167, Del. Super.).



Judge Dismisses Wrongful Death Suit Against Tobacco Companies
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A federal judge in California on May 16 dismissed a wrongful death suit against two tobacco companies brought by the widower of a woman who died from cardiovascular diseases after years of smoking because the plaintiff failed to join his adult children as plaintiffs in the suit (Julius Engel v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2:17-cv-618, E.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74692).



Federal Judge Dismisses Trademark Infringement Suit Against Tobacco Shop
MIAMI - A federal judge in Florida on June 15 denied a pipe maker's motion for default final judgment and dismissed the trademark infringement suit without prejudice because the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the suit (Sream Inc. v. Hookah, Tobacco And Sun Inc., No. 17-CV-2020701, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93106).