Today, U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta ruled to defer a motion filed by six public health groups who seek to be added as defendants in a lawsuit filed by three cigar trade groups over the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) deeming regulations.
Mehta’s ruling will delay any decision until after the plaintiffs and FDA file a joint status report due on Sept. 4, 2017.
The health groups are:
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
- American Heart Association
- American Lung Association
- Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
- Truth Initiative
Collectively known as Public Health Intervenors the groups have sought to be added to the lawsuit because they fear FDA will not defend the deeming regulations in their entirety thought the lawsuit.
For its part, FDA had no opinion on whether the groups should be allowed to join the lawsuit, only arguing that it made sense to delay the ruling. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs—the Cigar Association of America (CAA), Cigar Rights of America (CRA) and the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR)—objected to their inclusion.
Mehta’s decision focused on two points. First, it’s not entirely clear what the cigar trade groups will continue to petition the court to do. Initially, the groups asked the court to vacate the entire rule, however, it could be the case, particularly after an announcement last month substantially delaying the deadlines for product approval, that the trade groups narrow their complaint.
Second, Mehta argued the health groups could provide no evidence that FDA has begun to negotiate with the trade groups about modifying the rule itself, a central part of their complaint, which he dismissed as “speculative and overly aspirational.”