In a unanimous opinion published on January 23, 2012, the Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and held that a California law prohibiting the sale, processing or holding of a nonambulatory animal was expressly preempted by the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA).

The case, National Meat Association v. Harris, dealt with Section 599f of the California Penal Code, which was enacted in 2008 in response to an undercover video released by the Humane Society showing workers in California kicking and electroshocking sick and disabled cows in an attempt to move the cows. The law makes it a crime for any slaughterhouse to “buy, sell or receive a nonambulatory animal,” or to “process, butcher or sell meat or products of nonambulatory animals for human consumption,” or “hold a nonambulatory animal without taking immediate action to humanely euthanize the animal.”

The National Meat Association (NMA) sued to enjoin enforcement of the law as applied to swine slaughterhouses and argued that the FMIA’s broad express preemption provision prohibited California from enacting distinct requirements for the handling of nonambulatory pigs. The FMIA and implementing regulations enacted by the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) broadly regulate slaughterhouses to promote meat safety and humane treatment. With respect to the treatment of nonambulatory pigs, FSIS regulations permit slaughterhouses to hold and eventually sell nonambulatory animals, subject to a “post-mortem” examination.


Continue Reading Supreme Court Unanimously Holds California Law Prohibiting Sale, Processing or Holding of Nonambulatory Pigs Expressly Preempted under the Federal Meat Inspection Act

On June 23, 2011, the Supreme Court rendered its decision in Pliva, Inc. v. Mensing holding that FDA regulations governing generic drug products directly conflict with and preempt state laws that would require generic drug manufacturers to modify the FDA-authorized labeling for their products to provide "adequate warnings" as defined by state law. The Court

Last week, the Center for Environmental Health, a non-profit organization, filed a complaint in California Superior Court alleging that 34 cosmetics companies violated the California Organic Products Act of 2003 (“COPA”) by selling, labeling, or marketing cosmetic products containing less than 70% organic ingredients as “organic.” The Center seeks an order enjoining the defendants from

Late last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a significant federal preemption case concerning an individual’s right to sue a vaccine manufacturer for injury that is alleged to have resulted from a defect in a vaccine’s design. The 6-2 decision (Justice Kagan recused herself) in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth held that a provision within the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (NCVIA) preempts all design-defect tort claims against vaccine manufacturers brought by plaintiffs seeking compensation for injury or death caused by vaccine side effects. The NCVIA was originally enacted to establish a no-fault compensation program that serves as an alternative to the traditional tort system for resolving vaccine injury claims.

In 1995, the parents of Hannah Bruesewitz claimed that their daughter became disabled after receiving a vaccine manufactured by Lederle Laboratories (now owned by Wyeth). In response, they filed a vaccine-injury petition in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which the NCVIA designated to decide which vaccine injury claims should be compensated. After the Bruesewitz’s claim was denied, the parents sued Lederle in Pennsylvania state court alleging that Lederle was subject to strict liability and liability for negligent product design under Pennsylvania common law. The case was removed to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with Wyeth on its summary judgment motion and held that the state law claim was preempted by the NCVIA.

The Supreme Court affirmed the Third Circuit decision based on a textual analysis of the NCVIA preemption provision, which reads:


Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Federal Preemption In Childhood Vaccine Liability Case

This post was written by Sarah Roller

The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that certain false advertising claims based on state consumer protection and anti-deception statutes were not preempted by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA)— a federal Act that establishes national standards for the sale and labeling of organically

On May 19, 2010, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved a final settlement order with the Indoor Tanning Association charging that the association exaggerated the health benefits of indoor tanning and misrepresented that indoor tanning increases the risk of skin cancer. The settlement bars the Association from making misrepresentations about the health and safety of indoor tanning and requires that future advertisements from the association that make health or safety claims be accompanied by clear and prominent disclosures about the risks of indoor tanning. The Indoor Tanning Association represents tanning facilities and suppliers of tanning equipment.

Continue Reading Settlement with Indoor Tanning Association Regarding Claims Characterizing Disease Risks for Tanning and Vitamin D Supplements