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March 13, 2006

"Silent Tort Reform" Limits State Law

A March 10 New York Times article by Stephen Labaton focuses on the "silent tort reform" movement being achieved by federal agencies that are establishing industry driven preemptive safety standards implicitly sanctioned by the White House.  The insertion of clauses in the agency rules that block the application of higher state law standards, whether legislative or judicial, could have a significant impact on state tort law.  As examples, the article noted that the Consumer Product Safety Commission adopted a preemptive mattress fire safety rule, the FDA a preemptive drug safety rule, and a proposed rule by the  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that would pre-empt state laws on the safety standards for car roofs and seat positions.  While the new regulations will likely face court challenges, the agencies have included the preemptive language in the preambles of the rules, which is intended to make the preemption challenges more difficult.  The trend has been criticized by consumer and victims rights groups.  By Stephen Labaton, New York Times.

MKS

March 13, 2006 | Permalink

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