The Roberts Court Wades into Products Liability Preemption Waters: Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc.

By Catherine M. Sharkey
October 01, 2007

With Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc., the Roberts Court makes its inaugural foray this term into the realm of federal preemption of state-law products liability claims. The Supreme Court’s products liability preemption jurisprudence is a small but expanding area that can trace its beginnings to the early 1990s with Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., and continues, most recently, through the 2005 decision of Bates v. Dow Agrosciences, LLC. The regulation of public health and safety via common law tort actions falls within the traditional purview of the states. In recent  decades, however, the federal government has played an increasingly significant role in the regulation of products. In 1976, Congress enacted the Medical Device Amendments (MDA) “to provide for the safety and effectiveness of medical devices intended for human use.” ...