Presumption Against Preemption

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We have no inclination to mess with Texas.  Heck, a state ornery enough to secede from two different countries in order to preserve slavery isn’t likely to care, anyway.  So if Texas wants to run its own power grid, not connect to the rest of us, and freeze in the dark when that system fails, we’re certainly not going to stand in the way.  Conversely, when Texas emphatically adopted the learned intermediary rule in Centocor, Inc. v. Hamilton, 372 S.W.3d 140 (Tex. 2012), we hailed it as the best decision of 2012.

But when Texas decides to mess with the rest of us….  Well, that’s different.

So we do have comments on the bizarre complaint that the Texas attorney general recently filed over COVID-19.  The complaint, brought under the Texas consumer protection statute, sued a major manufacturer of COVID-19 vaccine that was used to control the recent pandemic.  That Complaint alleges various antivax conspiracy theories concerning COVID-19 vaccines, the FDA, emergency use authorizations, and the media that have circulated since these vaccines first became available.  The Texas Complaint also claims that, in various ways, the vaccine manufacturer violated certain mandatory FDCA provisions and FDA regulations (¶22), did not follow voluntary FDA guidance (¶¶25-31), supposedly committed fraud on the FDA by submitting misleading data (¶¶47, 117, 120-21), and mostly that it purportedly misled the public and/or the press (¶¶50, 55-91, 154-55, 157-59, 161-63, 165-66, 168-69).Continue Reading A Texas Mess

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As we’ve discussed before, the United States Supreme Court, in Puerto Rico v. Franklin-California Tax-Free Trust, 579 U.S. 115 (2016), sent the presumption against preemption, in express preemption cases anyway, into the dustbin of history.

[B]ecause the statute contains an express pre-emption clause, we do not invoke any presumption against pre-emption but instead focus on the plain wording of the clause, which necessarily contains the best evidence of Congress’ pre-emptive intent.

Id. at 125 (citations and quotation marks omitted).Continue Reading On the Erstwhile Presumption Against Preemption, the Third Circuit Sticks Out Like a Sore Thumb

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The decision in In re Bard IVC Filters Products Liability Litigation, 969 F.3d 1067 (9th Cir. 2020) (“Booker”), is yet another reminder that multidistrict litigation as it is currently conducted is a fundamentally flawed process, dedicated more to forcing settlements than to any of the goals envisioned by Congress when it passed

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Not quite two years ago, the United States Supreme Court did something that we liked a lot – it abolished the so-called “presumption against preemption” in express preemption cases. It did that in a bankruptcy case, Puerto Rico v. Franklin-California Tax-Free Trust, 136 S. Ct. 1938 (2016) (“Franklin”), so it took a

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We’ve always been bothered by the presumption against preemption – so much that this blog’s first major substantive post was on that subject.  Even before that, back in the Bone Screw days, we remember the presumption against preemption accompanying the death of express preemption for 510(k) medical devices in Lohr.  In Lohr, the presumption was used as a narrowing principle of statutory construction: “[W]e use[] a presumption against the pre-emption of state police power regulations to support a narrow interpretation of such an express command.”  Id. at 485.  Then along came Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc., 552 U.S. 312 (2008), which (as we pointed out at the time) upheld preemption of pre-market approved medical devices under the same statutory provision with nary a peep about any preemption-busting presumption.  Nonetheless, even after Riegel, some lousy circuit court decisions still invoked the presumption as a way of poking holes in PMA preemption, most notoriously the en banc Ninth Circuit in Stengel v. Medtronic Inc., 704 F.3d 1224, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 2013), which fawned over the presumption at some length before deciding that a duty to provide information to a governmental agency wasn’t any different than a bog standard product liability duty to warn.

The presumption also came up in the context of the Vaccine Act, where one court (discussed here) sought to nullify statutory preemption by latching onto a statement in Bates v. Dow Agrosciences LLC, 544 U.S. 431 (2005) (a non-FDCA case), about there being “a duty to accept the reading [of a statute] that disfavors pre-emption,” even where there are other equally “plausible” interpretations. Id. at 449.  That view was shot down by the Supreme Court in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth LLC, 562 U.S. 223 (2011), which interpreted the Vaccine Act’s preemption clause in a pro-preemption direction with nary a mention of the erstwhile adverse presumption – something else we mentioned at the time.

Then along came PLIVA v. Mensing, 564 U.S. 604 (2011), where four justices found, if anything, a presumption in favor of presumption, id. at 621-23 (viewing the Supremacy Clause as a constitutional “non obstante” provision), four justices disagreed, and one didn’t take a position.  Mensing, of course, was an implied preemption case.

For these reasons, we speculated a little over a year ago whether the presumption against preemption might be dead.  Then a little later, we thought we might be wrong.

Turns out we’re half right.Continue Reading The Demise of the Presumption Against Preemption in Express Preemption Cases