Amicus Briefs

The Public Health Law Center plays a unique role supporting public health policy by preparing amicus curiae, or friend of the court, briefs in legal cases of national importance related to public health. We have prepared and filed or joined in dozens of amicus briefs in key cases before the appellate courts of many states, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals, and many state supreme courts. For example, these briefs have supported local authority to enact smoke-free ordinances or to regulate tobacco distribution, and rules requiring restaurants to provide warnings on menus about sodium content.

Amicus briefs are legal documents filed in appellate court cases by non-litigants with a strong interest in the subject matter. The briefs advise the court of relevant, additional information or arguments that the court might wish to consider. A well-written amicus brief can have a significant impact on judicial decision-making. Cases are occasionally decided on grounds suggested by an amicus, and decisions may rely on information or factual analysis provided only by an amicus. You can read more about the Function and Role of Amicus Briefs in Public Health Litigation.

The database below of cases in which we have participated in amicus briefs is searchable by keyword, public health topic, legal issue, state, and case status. You can also use the icons to do a quick-search of four broad topics.

Amicus Briefs Database

Jennifer Hochstatter v. John Arntz, Superior Ct. of State of Calif., County of San Francisco, No. CPF-19-516813 (2019)

The legal issue in this case is whether San Francisco’s ballot measure, Proposition C – supported by JUUL Labs and purportedly a youth access law – would  allow flavored e-cigarettes back onto store shelves in San Francisco, overturning city laws passed in 2019 and 2017 that were intended to ban e-cigarettes not regulated by the FDA and to keep products like Juul’s mango and cucumber nicotine pods out of the hands of teens.

State: California
Most Recent Decision: 2019
Status: Open

Cumberland Farms v. Town of Yarmouth Board of Health, No 2019-P-0020, Mass. Appeals Ct. (2019)

The legal issue in this case is whether the Town of Yarmouth’s multi-step review process based on smelling, tasting, and physically examining tobacco products, including “concept flavors” such as Jazz, meets the evidentiary standard required by law to identify these products as flavored.

State: Massachusetts
Most Recent Decision: 2019
Status: Open

Cigar Association of America v. U.S. Food & Drug Administration (No. 1:16-cv-1460 D.D.C. 2017)

The legal issue in this case is whether the warning label disclosure requirements of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Deeming Rule are a rational, well-justified response to the public health issues associated with cigars.

State: Washington D.C.
Most Recent Decision: 2019
Status: Open

Mahfoud Abdella v. Town of Johnston & LA Enterprises, No. PC-2018-0466, Providence, R.I. S.C. (2019)

The legal issue in this case is whether the Town of Johnston, Rhode Island, has the authority to enact an ordinance that removes flavored tobacco products from general stores and requires that they be sold in vape shops or smoking bans, and that prohibits tobacco retailers from accepting coupons or providing discounts for any tobacco product.

State: Rhode Island
Most Recent Decision: 2019
Status: Open

Abdul Khan v. Town of Middletown, and The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, LLC, C.A. No. NC-2017-0443 (2018)

The legal issue in this case is whether the Town of Middletown, Rhode Island, has the authority to enact science-based public health laws to protect its residents – particularly its youth – from addiction to tobacco products and the toll of tobacco-related disease and death.

State: Rhode Island
Most Recent Decision: 2018
Status: Closed

K & W Automotive v. Barrington, No. PC-2018-0471, Providence, R.I. S.C. (2018)

The legal issue in this case is whether the Town of Barrington, Rhode Island, has the authority to enact science-based public health laws to protect its residents – particularly its youth – from addiction to tobacco products and the toll of tobacco-related disease and death.

State: Rhode Island
Most Recent Decision: 2018
Status: Open

Lora Jean Williams, et al. v. City of Philadelphia et al., Nos. 2077, 2078 CD 2016 (2017)

The legal issue in this case is whether the City of Philadelphia has the authority to implement a tax on soda and sugary drinks, levied on distributors of the products.

State: Pennsylvania
Most Recent Decision: 2018
Status: Closed

Nicopure Labs, LLC v. Food and Drug Administration, et al. / Right to be Smoke-free Coalition, et al. v. Food and Drug Administration, et al. (2016) (2018)

The legal issue in this case is whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s regulation expanding its regulatory authority over cigars, e-cigarettes, and other tobacco products violate the Administrative Procedures Act, the Regulatory Flexibility Act, or the First Amendment.

State: Washington D.C.
Most Recent Decision: 2018
Status: Open