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Just starting out in the Personal Injury Law field? A basic knowledge of the terms of art is key to impressing your client or managing partner with your ability to handle Personal Injury Law matters competently. Read on for a quick primer!
Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U.S. 504 (1992): Arguably the U.S. Supreme Court’s most significant tort preemption case to date, a tobacco litigation case brought by the family of a deceased smoker against cigarette manufacturers, alleging state tort claims, including design defects, failure to warn, breach of express warranty, fraudulent misrepresentation, and conspiracy to defraud. The majority opinion held that federal law regulating tobacco warnings did not preempt state tort common law damages actions, because there exists a presumption against preempting a state’s power to police bad actors on behalf of its citizens.
Express Preemption: When Congress expressly states “we hereby preempt” within a statute, allowing the newly enacted federal law to preclude all contrary state and local regulations addressing the same topic.
Federal Preemption: The power of the federal government under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution to displace a state law in favor of a federal law or regulation, when the state law conflicts with the federal law or regulation.
Implied Preemption: Less obvious than the express preemption doctrine, implied preemption occurs (1) when it is impossible for a defendant to comply with both the federal statute and the state law, making the two laws mutually exclusive; (2) when a state law impedes the achievement of a federal objective that Congress sought to attain with the enactment of the federal statute; thus if both laws attempt to achieve the same goal, the federal law will preempt the state law; and (3) when federal law wholly occupies the field in question, because Congress meant for the federal law to control the field exclusively, such as in the areas of immigration, ERISA, and labor disputes involving workers’ unions.
Tort Reform: A movement to limit in state court proceedings certain tort litigation, excessive damages awards, and frivolous lawsuits.