Toxic Tort Litigator Margie Searcy Alford On Wyeth v. Levine

Toxic Tort Litigator Margie Searcy Alford On Wyeth v. Levine

In this Emerging Issues analysis, toxic tort litigator and author Margie Searcy Alford comments on the U.S. Supreme Court in Wyeth v. Levine (129 S. Ct. 1187 [2009]). The court held that federal law did not preempt state failure-to-warn claims against drug manufacturers. Ms. Alford also gives practice tips to help attorneys with the application of this decision. She writes:
 
"The Court in this surprisingly six-to-three decision held that federal regulation of what goes on a drug label does not bar state causes of action for injuries caused by inadequate warnings on the label. In addition, the case gives insight into what the justices might do in other types of pre-emption cases such as other kinds of product liability cases.
 
"The majority of the Court in Wyeth v. Levine implied but did not go as far as saying that it usually will find pre-emption only when it finds that the specific intent of Congress was to pre-empt state law. Some other courts in other cases have recognized two other kinds of pre-emption: (1) pre-emption where it is implied by federal law and (2) pre-emption where federal law so broadly covers an area of law that state law cannot coexist with it without a conflict.
 
"The dissenters felt that the warnings on the Phenergan label were sufficient and that the practitioner was at fault for not following the warnings that were actually on the label. The label did contain warnings about the dangers of IV pushes of Phenergan but the majority of the Court found that they were not adequate."
 
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