As many readers of CalBizLit know, federal preemption is a recurring issue in product
cases.The law of preemption California just took a step in the direction ofautomobile manufacturers.
requirements for passenger vehicle restraint systems in the United States are
established by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (?FMVSS?) 208, set by the
National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (?NHTSA?) under authority of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (49 U.S.C. § 30101 et
seq.)The safety act requires combination lap
shoulder belts at the outboard (e.g., window) seats, but allows either lap
belts or lap shoulder belts at inboard (usually middle) seats.
Act has a preemption provision, providing that, on the one hand, states may
impose requirements relating to the same aspects of performance as those
promulgated under the Act only if they are identical, but that, on the other
hand, ?[c]ompliance with a motor vehicle safety standard prescribed under this chapter does not
exempt a person from liability at common law.? (49 U.S.C. § 30103(e).)
the Court of Appeal decided Williamson v. Mazda Motor of America (October 22,
2008) ___Cal.App.4th ___ (G038845).The vehicle in Williamson was in a head-on
collision.Two back-seat passengers were
strapped into three-point restraints and survived.The decedent was secured by the middle
two-point lap belt, jackknifed and was killed.Plaintiffs? counsel acknowledged before the trial court that his only
theory was that the manufacture of the vehicle with a lap belt instead of a lap
shoulder belt was a product defect, and the court granted judgment on the
of Appeal held that Ketchum was inconsistent with the U.S. Supreme Court?s more
recent holding in Geier v. American Honda Motor Company, Inc. (2000) 529 U.S.
861 finding preemption of a product claim based on failure to install air bags,
where FMVSS 208 allowed installation of
air bags or other passive restraints.Based on the reasoning in Geier , this
Court of Appeal held that the product defect claim was preempted.
course, technically there are conflicting Court of Appeal decisions on this
issue, and under Auto Equity Sales, Inc. v. Superior Court of Santa Clara
County (1962) 57 Cal. 2d 450,
every trial court in the state is entitled to follow either one of them.I?m guessing, however, that when or if issue
comes up again, whether concerning restraints or other performance standards, the
trial courts are going to take the safe route and follow Geier and Williamson.
congratulations to my friend Brian Takahashi at Bowman and Brooke in Los
Angeles, the winner here.
Preemption: Meanwhile, back at the convention Apropos preemption, we note this session on Sunday, July 13, at the American Association for Justice's annual convention in Philadelphia: Preemption Law Litigation Group Afternoon Theme: Federal Preemption: Fighting in Court and in Congress Preemption Update: Activity on the Hill...
Preemption: The legislative undermining under way The attacks against federal preemption, a recurring topic of discussion around here, are stepping up in Congress. On June 26 Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) introduced H...
Why Doctors Should Worry About Preemption Doctors, trial lawyers, and consumers actually have mutual interests in the continuing battle over "preemption." Preemption is the doctrine, whether by statute or case law that basically says if a product, such as a medical device or drug, is approved...
CPSC Preemption (Bic Pen v. Carter) We just saw this post at the Product Liability Profs Blog, telling us that the Texas Supreme Court, in Bic Pen v. Carter, last week reversed a verdict for plaintiff based on Consumer Product Safety Act preemption...
SCOTUS preemption cases -- Findlaw commentary Anthony Sebok and Benjamin Zipursky [bio] have written some good comments on Findlaw about the forthcoming federal preemption case concerning drug warnings [Wyeth Commentary I and Wyeth Commentary II ] and a comment on the companion tobacco preemption case...
American Association for Justice on Preemption In a release today the American Association for Justice reports on its findings of a coordinated efffort at the highest levels of the Bush administration to achieve preemption of state safety laws...
Beck, Herrmann and Zipursky on Preemption First, Drug and Device Law Blog have posted an excellent primer on preemption. As Beck and Herrmann succinctly state: Implied preemption of tort cases is a big deal because how the Supreme Court addresses implied preemption in Levine ? the....
What Does Good Say For Levine We hear you! We hear you!We're slaving away at our day jobs, and you keep asking, "What does the Supreme Court's decision in Altria v. Good mean for the pending case of Wyeth v. Levine?"For assorted reasons, we can't say much on this topic, but we offer these few words:The bad in Good:Five justices opposed preemption on some pretty preemption-friendly facts...