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In a decision that could affect other kinds of cases involving a federal regulatory scheme, the Texas Supreme Court held April 18 that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Act pre-empts a tort claim brought against a cigarette lighter manufacturer.

The Supreme Court’s 8-0 decision in BIC Pen Corp. v. Carter, with Justice Paul Green not participating, leaves in limbo a more than $3.7 million judgment favoring the mother of a 6-year-old girl burned when another child accidentally set fire to her dress while playing with a BIC lighter. Although the Supreme Court reversed the 13th Court of Appeals’ judgment with regard to the mother’s design-defect claim against BIC, the high court remanded Carter to the Corpus Christi appeals court to address other issues, including a manufacturing-defect claim.

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