On April 27, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 7-to-2 decision, handed supporters of federal pre-emption a narrow victory in Bates v. Dow Agrosciences LLC, __U.S.__, 125 S.Ct. 1788, __L.Ed.2d__ (2005). In Bates, the majority’s decision endorsed the principal that state law fraud and failure-to-warn claims may be pre-empted in appropriate circumstances under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodent-icide Act (“FIFRA” or “Act”), 7 U.S.C. �136 et seq. The Bates majority held that where such state law claims impose requirements on an insecticide manufacturer that are “in addition to or different from” labeling or packaging requirements under FIFRA, the claims will be barred by FIFRA’s pre-emption provision, 7 U.S.C. �136v(b).
As such, Bates is but the latest in a series of Supreme Court decisions, beginning with the Court’s 1992 decision in Cippollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U.S. 504 (1992), that have looked at the scope of pre-emption under various federal statutes. Although Bates is not a traditional product liability case, the Court’s analysis in Bates will likely exert considerable influence on pre-emption decisions in future product cases.
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