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RJR Nabisco et al. v. European Community et al. [United States] [June 20, 2016]

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that RJR Nabisco could not be sued under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act for its conduct abroad. The European Union (known as the European Community in this case) sued RJR Nabisco claiming that the company directed and managed a global smuggling and money-laundering scheme with organized crime groups in violation of the RICO law. In this decision, the Supreme Court ruled that certain elements of RICO can apply to conduct that occurs outside of the United States. However, the Court also found that a private entity— this case, a foreign government­—cannot sue under RICO in the United States unless it has suffered a domestic injury. Because the European Union had earlier waived its claims of a domestic injury, the Court was forced to dismiss the EU’s remaining claims. 

United States v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. [United States] [February 08, 2016]

In 1999, the United States filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the major cigarette manufacturers and related trade organizations alleging that defendants, while acting as an enterprise, fraudulently misled American consumers for decades about the risks and dangers of cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke in violation of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). In 2006, the court found that defendants violated RICO and that there was a reasonable likelihood that defendants would continue to violate RICO in the future. On appeal, the district court’s findings were upheld, in part, vacated, in part, and remanded, in part, to the district court. After the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from both sides in the case in June 2010, the district court began to implement the 2006 final order.

As a means of preventing future RICO violations, the district court ordered the tobacco companies to issue corrective statements on five topics in which they had misled the public, including the adverse health effects of smoking and the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine. The companies challenged the language of the corrective statements ordered by the court. A previous decision upheld all of the corrective statements with the exception of the introductory sentence. In this decision, the district court found that a revised introductory statement submitted by the government is acceptable because it removes any reference to tobacco companies’ prior deceptive conduct. The judge castigated the tobacco companies for attempting to rewrite the corrective statements entirely, calling it a “ridiculous – a waste of precious time, energy, and money for all concerned – and a loss of information for the public.” The court also refused to change any of the terms in the previously agreed upon consent order. 

State of New York et. al v. United Parcel Service [United States] [September 16, 2015]

The court allowed a lawsuit to proceed against United Parcel Service (UPS) for allegedly delivering contraband untaxed cigarettes within the state of New York. The court dismissed two of the claims because UPS had an agreement in place with the New York Attorney General prohibiting them from delivering cigarettes to unauthorized recipients. However, the court found there was enough information for the other claims—based on violations of federal and state law—to continue. 

United States v. Philip Morris USA [United States] [May 22, 2015]

In 1999, the United States filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the major cigarette manufacturers and related trade organizations alleging that defendants, while acting as an enterprise, fraudulently misled American consumers for decades about the risks and dangers of cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke in violation of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). In 2006, the court found that defendants violated RICO and that there was a reasonable likelihood that defendants would continue to violate RICO in the future. On appeal, the district court’s findings were upheld, in part, vacated, in part, and remanded, in part, to the district court. After the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from both sides in the case in June 2010, the district court began to implement the 2006 final order.

As a means of preventing future RICO violations, the district court ordered the tobacco companies to issue corrective statements on five topics in which they had misled the public, including the adverse health effects of smoking and the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine. The companies challenged the language and form of the corrective statements. In this decision, the Court of Appeals found that the tobacco companies had waived their right to challenge the wording of the corrective statements. However, the court found that an introduction to the corrective statements (explaining that a federal court has ruled that tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public) exceeded the scope of scope of remedies allowed under RICO. Finally, the court found that tobacco companies had waived their right to challenge the distribution of corrective statements via company websites, cigarette packages, and newspaper and television ads.

European Community v. RJR Nabisco, Inc. [United States] [April 13, 2015]

This case involves a claim against RJR Nabisco that the company directed and managed a global smuggling and money-laundering scheme with organized crime groups in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law. The court upheld an earlier decision finding that the RICO law could apply to actions that happen outside of the United States when the underlying laws that constitute racketeering explicitly apply to foreign activity. 

Hawkins v. Van Heerden [Australia] [June 24, 2014]

The defendant was previously convicted of selling products designed to resemble a tobacco product in breach of s106(a) of the Tobacco Products Control Act 2006 (WA). The defendant had been selling e-cigarettes and nicotine-free 'e-Juice'. (See: Hawkins v Van Heerden [2014] WASC 127 (10 April 2014)).

In this decision, the Supreme Court imposed a fine of $1,750 for the offence and ordered the defendant to pay the costs of the trial and the appeal. In doing so, Pritchard J observed that it was not necessary to decide whether e-cigarettes were harmful to their users, because whether or not the product sold was harmful to human health was not an element of the offence under s106 of the Act. Rather, the purpose of s106 is to discourage the promotion of tobacco products and smoking by banning the sale of products which resemble tobacco products and contribute to normalising the activity of smoking.

European Community v. RJR Nabisco, Inc. [United States] [April 23, 2014]

The European Union sued RJR Nabisco claiming that the company directed and managed a global smuggling and money-laundering scheme with organized crime groups in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law. In this decision, the court disagreed with a lower court and revived the case against RJR. The court ruled that RJR could be sued under the RICO law because (1) some of the underlying laws that were allegedly violated (e.g., money laundering) apply outside of the United States; and (2) violations of other laws (e.g., mail and wire fraud) occurred inside the United States. Additionally, the court ruled that the federal court has jurisdiction to hear the case because the European Union (known as the European Community in this lawsuit) qualifies as a foreign state.

Hawkins v. Van Heerden [Australia] [April 10, 2014]

The operator of a website selling electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) was convicted of violating the Tobacco Products Control Act 2006 (WA) by selling a product that is “designed to resemble a tobacco product.” The Supreme Court overturned an earlier ruling by a lower court, which had acquitted the seller.

The Supreme Court found that the e-cigarettes, which contained only “e-juice” and no nicotine, resembled a tobacco product because they are used for inhaling vapour, which is exhaled in a manner similar to smoke from a cigarette.

See further the sentencing judgment: Hawkins v. Van Heerden [No 2] [2014] WASC 226 (24 June 2014).

State of Israel v. Vidal [Israel] [June 23, 2013]

This is a criminal procedure against a bar manager for violations of a smoke free law. The Court found the defendant criminally guilty for not enforcing the law by allowing bar guests to smoke in the premises.  The Court ordered a personal fine of 14,000 Shekel ($3,500).

The Queen v. Ashok Kumar [Northern Ireland] [January 18, 2013]

A criminal defendant, who had been caught smuggling over 300,000 cigarettes, was found guilty by a jury of conspiring to evade customs duty and carrying dutiable goods with intent to defraud. In commenting upon the seriousness of the offences, the sentencing court referred to the FCTC provisions relating to the elimination of illicit trade in tobacco products. The defendant was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.

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