Attorneys for the three Texas-based cigar businesses that sued the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) over its cigar regulations have appealed a decision from earlier this week that moved their lawsuit to a Washington D.C. court.
On Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson issued a ruling that moved the Texas lawsuit to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. That decision was a reversal of a ruling that Priest Johnson made in May, denying FDA’s request to combine the two lawsuits.
In her ruling, Priest Johnson cited a recent appeal filing in the D.C. lawsuit. As it turns out, that D.C. motion was heard and ultimately led to the D.C. court ruling that FDA’s warning label requirements would be delayed until 60 days after an appeals court decides the appeal brought by three cigar trade groups, a major win for the cigar industry.
The Texas lawsuit was filed by En Fuego, a Dallas area cigar shop, El Cubano Cigars of League City and the Texas Cigar Merchants Association.
Attorneys for the Texas plaintiffs argued against the most recent division for a variety of reasons. It should be noted, this appeal seems to have been written before the D.C. court granted the motion to delay the warning label requirements. It’s unclear whether the plaintiffs in the Texas case will revise the motion, as some of their arguments specifically cite the impending, but now delayed, Aug. 10 warning label deadline.
While the cigar industry won a major, albeit temporary, delay in D.C. yesterday, keeping the Texas lawsuit separate would benefit the industry’s legal strategy for a number of reasons, including forcing FDA to defend itself in multiple courtrooms, a potentially more favorable judge in Texas and, at the most basic level, having a second legal option if the D.C. appeal is not successful.