Articles Posted in Preemption

Although the weather in Illinois has been fairly mild this winter, after the recent snow, our Chicago personal injury lawyers want to take a moment to remind people to be careful when using snowblowers this season.

According to a report by MSNBC, across the Midwest, State emergency officials are renewing their warnings about snowblowers after seven men suffered severe hand injuries this week. The injuries occurred when the men used their hands to clear wet snow from their snowblowers. Officials say that four of the men required surgery, and three of those had to have at least one finger partially or completely amputated.

When consumers buy products off the shelves of retail stores, those customers have the right to expect that the product will not be unreasonably dangerous. Special laws are in place to protect consumers from hazardous products, and to help customers recover after they have been injured.

The products liability section of the American Association for Justice focuses on cases and legislation regarding products liability and product safety. It covers consumer products, automobiles, toys, and more.

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A federal judge dismissed lawsuits that were filed in federal court on behalf of thousands of patients who have been implanted with dangerous Sprint Fidelis defibrillator-wires. It has been shown that the wires are prone to fracturing and transmitting electric shocks, which can cause severe injuries and death, and they were recalled by the FDA in October 2007. In dismissing the cases, the judge recognized that the plaintiffs have suffered injuries from using the defibrillators, but concluded that the lawsuits were preempted by federal law, citing Riegel v. Medtronic. In Riegel, a case decided last year, the U.S. Supreme Court held that federal medical device regulations prevent plaintiffs from bringing state product liability lawsuits unless the manufacturer is in violation of FDA regulations. This decision creates a “compliance defense” for the device manufacturers. As long as they abide by FDA regulations, and even though the devices they produce are shown to be dangerous and harmful, the medical device companies cannot be sued on behalf of the people whom their products have injured or killed.

The Supreme Court is currently considering a similar case involving prescription drugs and it will soon issue its ruling on whether federal law also preempts drug product liability cases. If the Court concludes that these lawsuits are indeed preempted, thousands of patients will have no legal recourse for injuries and deaths caused by prescription drugs. This would shield drug companies from liability for creating drugs that are initially approved by the FDA but later recalled after they are found to be harmful or deadly.

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