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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).



Jury Awards $15 Million To Widow Of Smoker In Engle Progeny Suit
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida jury on April 21 awarded the widow of a smoker in a tobacco suit a total of $12 million in punitive damages, bringing the total award against a tobacco company to $15 million (Mary Lima v. R.J. Reynolds, et al., No. 2015CA007140, Fla. Cir., 13th Jud. Cir. Hillsborough Co.).



Florida Jury Awards $6.8 Million To Widow In Tobacco Suit
ORLANDO, Fla. - A Florida state court jury on May 12 awarded the widow of a smoker $5 million in punitive damages in an Engle progeny suit, bringing the total award to $6.8 million (Mary Sheffield v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2013-CA-009469, Fla. 9th Jud. Cir., Orange Co.).



Engle Progeny Parties Dispute Significance Of Florida Supreme Court Ruling
ATLANTA - The daughter of man who was awarded $2.75 million in an Engle progeny suit and the tobacco companies that initially appealed the verdict on May 1 filed briefs in the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals disputing the significance of a Florida Supreme Court ruling that held that federal law does not preempt negligence and strict liability claims in Engle progeny suits (Theresa Graham v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 13-14590, 11th Cir.).



Jury Finds For Tobacco Company In Engle Progeny Suit
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A jury in Florida on April 24 found for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in a suit in which a woman claimed that the tobacco company was responsible for her husband's laryngeal cancer and subsequent death because it intentionally hid the dangers of smoking from him (Doris Shadd v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008CA038631, Fla. Cir., 15th Jud. Cir., Palm Beach Co.).



Florida Jury Awards Smoker's Widow $858,209 In Tobacco Suit
OCALA, Fla. - A Florida state court jury on May 9 awarded a woman $858,209 in compensatory damages after finding that her husband's cancer and death was caused by his addiction to cigarettes (Joy Lawrence v. R.J. Reynolds, No. 2009-CA-000178, Fla. 5th Jud. Cir. Marion Co.).



D.C. Circuit Court Remands Tobacco Suit To Rework Preamble Of Smoking Statement
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 25 remanded a suit in which the United States alleged that several tobacco companies misled the public about the harmfulness of cigarettes to a district court with instructions to alter preambles the lower court had instructed tobacco companies to attach to a corrective statement about the harmfulness of smoking to cigarette packages and on websites of cigarette companies (United States of America, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 16-5101, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7225).



Majority Of Colorado High Court Finds Blunt Wraps Taxable
DENVER - A Colorado Supreme Court majority on May 15 determined that blunt wraps are a tobacco product and subject to taxation under Colorado's tobacco tax because they are a "kind" or "form" of tobacco and fall within "the plain language of 'tobacco products'" under Colorado's tobacco tax (Colorado Department of Revenue, et al. v. Creager Mercantile Co. Inc., No. 15SC266, Colo. Sup., 2017 Colo. LEXIS 376).



Tobacco Shop Files Brief To Support Remand Of Tax Lawsuit
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A tobacco shop on May 3 filed a reply brief in Pennsylvania federal court in support of its motion to remand a case in which it challenges a state tax on tobacco products because it is challenging a state law and not just the Pennsylvania's Department of Revenue's interpretation of what products should be taxed (East Coast Vapor LLC v. Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, et al., No. 1:17-CV-0452, M.D. Pa.).



Plaintiff Who Lost $8M Asbestos Verdict Wants Causation Cases Consolidated
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A motion by an asbestos plaintiff seeking to consolidate her appeal of a ruling excluding expert causation testimony involving cigarette filters with a second case challenging application of the Daubert standard is inappropriate because the court previously stayed her case and because the Florida Supreme Court has not accepted either case for review, Crane Co. told the court on March 14 (Richard DeLisle v. Crane Co., et al., No. SC16-2182, Fla. Sup.).



Man Injured By Vaping Device Battery Files Second Amended Petition
AUSTIN, Texas - A Texas man on May 3 filed a second amended petition in Texas state court to add a Chinese company that made the battery for a vaping device that exploded and injured him to his complaint against the makers of the vaping device and the store that sold it to him, claiming negligence (Matthew Bonestele v. Great Vapes LLC, et al., No. D-1-GN-16-002966, Texas 353rd Jud Dist. Travis Co.).



Philip Morris Seeks Dismissal In Wrongful Death Tobacco Suit
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Philip Morris USA Inc. says in a May 8 reply brief in California federal court in support of its motion to dismiss a wrongful death suit against it and another tobacco company that the man who brought the suit failed to join his children as parties and that he cannot represent them because he is suspended from practicing law (Julius Engel v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2:17-cv-618, E.D. Calif.).



Florida Supreme Court: Federal Law Does Not Preempt Engle Progeny Claims
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on April 6 affirmed a trial court's judgment in favor of an Engle progeny plaintiff after answering a certified question from a lower appellate court finding that federal law does not preempt negligence and strict liability claims because those claims do not hinder the sale of cigarettes, but go after the tobacco companies for their conspiracy to hide the dangers of smoking from the public (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Phil J. Marotta, No. SC16-218, Fla. Super., 2017 Fla. LEXIS 744).



Florida Panel Restores $32 Million Verdict In Tobacco Lawsuit
LAKELAND, Fla. - Recognizing that its ruling created a conflict with other appellate courts in Florida, a panel of the Second District Florida Court of Appeal on April 12 found that a trial court in an Engle progeny suit erred by reducing a compensatory award to a couple because a Florida statute governing negligence cases does not require compensatory awards to be reduced by the plaintiff's comparative fault (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. Richard Boatright, et al., No. 2D15-622, Richard Boatright, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 2D15-1781, Fla. App. 2nd Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 5027).



Florida Jury Awards $1.8 Million To Plaintiff In Engle Progeny Suit
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A jury in Florida on March 31 found that three tobacco companies contributed to the addiction, lung cancer and death of a woman and awarded her husband $1.6 million in compensatory damages (Charles Santoro v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-CV-025807, Fla. 17th Jud. Cir. Broward Co.).



Florida Jury Awards $1 Million To Widow In Engle Progeny Suit
MIAMI - A Florida jury on April 6 awarded the widow of a man who developed lung cancer and coronary artery disease (CAD) and died because of his addiction to cigarettes $1 million in compensatory damages (Steffany Sommers v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 13-2008-CA-001464-0000-01, Fla. 11th Cir. Miami-Dade Co.).



Widow, Cigarette Company Settle Over Punitives In Engle Progeny Suit
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - After a Florida jury awarded the husband of a woman who died from lung cancer related to cigarette smoking $3 million in compensatory damages on March 28, the attorneys for the widow and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on April 3 came to a confidential settlement over punitive damages before the jury had a chance to deliberate (James Whitmire v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2015-CA-002337, Fla. 2nd Jud. Cir. Leon Co.).



R.J. Reynolds Settles Engle Progeny Suit In Florida State Court
DADE CITY, Fla. - A woman who sued on behalf of her mother who died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) settled with a tobacco company before the jury was scheduled to hear closing arguments in a suit where the plaintiff claimed that the tobacco company hid the dangers of smoking from her mother that led to her illness and death (Linda Bean v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2015-CA-000931, Fla. Cir., 6th Jud. Cir., Pasco Co.).



New York Federal Judge Finds For New York City, State In Untaxed Cigarette Suit
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on March 24 found that United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) is liable and will owe damages to New York City and New York state for shipping untaxed cigarettes to unauthorized sellers (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).



Texas Appeals Panel: Tobacco Tax Does Not Violate U.S. Constitution
AUSTIN, Texas - On remand from the Texas Supreme Court, a state appellate panel on March 24 found that a tax enacted on nonparticipating manufacturers in a statewide tobacco settlement does not violate the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution and reversed summary judgment granted to the small tobacco companies (Glenn Hegar, et al. v. Texas Small Tobacco Coalition and Global Tobacco Inc., No. 03-13-00753-CV, Texas App., 3rd Dist., 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 2547).



Pennsylvania Department Of Revenue Urges Dismissal Of Tobacco Tax Suit
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue on April 3 filed a brief in Pennsylvania federal court supporting its motion to dismiss a suit over a tobacco tax, saying there is "no case or controversy to be decided" by the court (East Coast Vapor LLC v. Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, et al., No. 1:17-CV-0452, M.D. Pa.).



United States Sues Company Over Untaxed Cigarettes
NEW YORK - The United States filed suit on March 15 in the U.S. Court of International Trade, claiming that a Florida tobacco product importer has not paid more than $800,000 in federal excise taxes (FET) (The United States v. Mariola International Company, No. 17-00047, U.S. Int. Trade).



Heeding Presumption Rejected In Tobacco User's New York Asbestos Lung Cancer Trial
NEW YORK - A New York justice refused to impose a heeding presumption in an asbestos trial in an opinion posted March 20, saying that absent evidence that a cigarette user who ignored tobacco warnings would have acted differently in the asbestos context, she would not impose such a standard (Donna Castorina, et al. v. A.C.&S., et al., No. 123077/01, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).



Court: Causation Opinion Admissible, Punitives OK In $6.5M Asbestos Verdict
FRESNO, Calif. - A judge properly admitted expert testimony that every identifiable exposure to asbestos contributes to mesothelioma, a California appeals court held March 17, while also rejecting challenges involving tobacco use and an award of punitive damages (Charity Faith Phillips, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. F070761, Calif. App., 5th Dist.).



Federal Judge Dismisses Counterclaim In Tobacco Contract Suit
RENO, Nev. - A federal judge in Nevada on April 13 found that a cigar company that filed a counterclaim against the owner of several properties in Nevada failed to state a "cognizable" counterclaim in a suit where the property owner claimed that the cigar company failed to collect taxes on tobacco products as required by Nevada law (Wynn Las Vegas LLC v. Cigar Row LLC, No. 2:15-CV-01079, D. Nev., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56886).