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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.



Florida Jury Awards $21.5 Million To Widow Of Smoker In Tobacco Suit
SARASOTA, Fla. - A Florida jury on Nov. 3 awarded $14 million in punitive damages to a woman whose husband died from cancer caused by smoking, bringing the total amount of damages in the Engle progeny suit to more than $21 million (Barbara Johnston v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2014-CA-004023, Fla. 12th Jud. Cir., Sarasota Co.).



Florida Jury Awards $20 Million In Punitives In Tobacco Trial
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida jury on Oct. 25 awarded $20 million in punitive damages to the husband of a woman who died after developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from smoking cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in an Engle progeny trial (Alan Konzelman v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008-CV-019620, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud. Cir., Broward Co.).



Jury Awards $4 Million In Engle Progeny Suit To Woman With COPD
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida state court jury on Nov. 14 awarded $4 million to a woman who developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) after finding that she developed the disease by smoking cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc. (Mary Howles v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2007-CV-034919, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud., Broward Co.).



Florida Jury Unable To Reach Verdict In Tobacco Trial
FORT MYERS, Fla. - A Florida jury in an Engle progeny case was unable to reach an agreement on whether a woman who died from lung cancer was addicted to cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and the judge declared a mistrial on Nov. 1 (John Maloney v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 07-CA-015578, Fla. 20th Jud. Cir., Lee Co.).



Florida Jury Finds For Defense In Tobacco Suit
NAPLES, Fla. - A Florida jury on Nov. 14 found in favor of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in an Engle progeny suit, determining that a woman knew or should have known that she had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) before the cutoff date to file an Engle progeny suit (Patricia Kloppenburg v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 1006472CA, Fla. 20th Jud. Cir. Collier Co.).



Libertarian Think Tank, Consumer Group Say Vaping Is Not Smoking
WASHINGTON D.C. - A libertarian-leaning think tank and a consumer group that are seeking to allow airplane passengers to use e-cigarettes and vaping devices say in a Nov. 4 reply brief to the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that part of the reason the use of e-cigarettes should be allowed on airplanes is because the use of e-cigarettes is not the same as smoking and the U.S. Department of Transportation's definition of vaping as smoking is unauthorized (Competitive Enterprise Institute, et al. v. United States Department of Transportation, et al., No.16-1128, D.C. Cir.).



Federal Judge Dismisses Complaint Seeking 'R' Ratings For Tobacco Depiction
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge in California on Nov. 10 granted a motion to dismiss a complaint that sought to assign an "R" rating to any movie that depicts tobacco use because movies are "expressive works" and are entitled to protection under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Timothy Forsyth v. Motion Picture Association of America, et al., No. 16-CV-00935-RS, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156719).



Federal Judge: Tribe's Company Owes Government $6.4 Million In Assessments
YAKIMA, Wash. - A Native American tobacco company must pay the federal government more than $6.4 million in assessments under the Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 (FETRA) that the company has not paid in the last four years, a Washington federal judge ruled Nov. 7 in awarding the government summary judgment on the amount owed (United States of America v. King Mountain Tobacco Co., Inc., No. 1:14-cv-03162, E.D. Wash.).



United States Claims Tobacco Company Owes $30,000 Under FERTA
STATESBORO, Ga. - The United States on Nov. 8 filed suit against the Southern Tobacco Co. in federal court in Georgia alleging that it violated the Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 (FERTA) by failing to pay up to $30,000 in assessments (United States of America v. Southern Tobacco Co., No. 6:16-cv-00152, S.D. Ga.).



Anti-Smoking Organization Seeks To Stop Sale Of 'Natural American Spirit' Cigarettes
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia-based anti-smoking group on Nov. 7 sued a cigarette maker and its parent company, claiming that they falsely advertise "Natural American Spirit" cigarettes as a healthier alternative to other cigarettes (Breathe DC v. Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc., et al., No. 2016-CA-008136-B, D.C. Super.).



Tobacco Company Claims Breach Of Contract In Manufacturing Deal
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - A company that acted as the customer service liaison between two tobacco companies filed suit on Nov. 9 in a federal court in Georgia, claiming that it was cut out of a contract for no reason other than to be cut out of the deal with the other companies (Optima Tobacco Co. v. U.S. Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers Inc., et al., No. 16-CV-889, E.D. N.C.).



German Glass Pipe Maker Sues Florida Tobacco Store
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A German glass tobacco pipe maker on Nov. 4 sued a Florida tobacco shop in federal court in Florida, claiming that the shop sold counterfeit pipes (Sream Inc. v. Tobacco E. Cigs LLC, No. 0:16-cv-62624, S.D. Fla.).