Thursday, June 5, 2014

Two by Sharkey on the Role of Agencies

Cathy Sharkey (NYU) has posted two pieces to SSRN.  First up is Tort-Agency Partnerships in an Age of Preemption.  The abstract provides:

At the core of the tort preemption cases before the U.S. Supreme Court is the extent to which state law can impose more stringent liability standards than federal law. The express preemption cases focus on whether the state law requirements are “different from, or in addition to” the federally imposed requirements. And the implied conflict preemption cases examine whether the state law standards are incompatible (impossibility preemption) or at least at odds (obstacle preemption) with the federal regulatory scheme.

But the preemption cases in the appellate pipeline — what I shall term the “second wave” of preemption cases — address a separate analytic question. Their focus is less on the substantive aspects of regulatory standards, and more on their enforcement. When can state tort law impose substantive duties or obligations that are “parallel” to federal requirements without thereby encroaching upon a federal agency’s discretionary enforcement prerogative? This is the new frontier in products liability preemption.

My proposed model suggests that courts facing these new issues should solicit input from federal agencies before resolving them. The model thereby offers a hybrid private-public model for the regulation of health and safety. It advocates an extension of my “agency reference model” to the “enforcement preemption” context: courts should place more emphasis on FDA input when deciding whether tort requirements are “parallel” to federal dictates, and (perhaps even more so) whether, even if they are, they nonetheless infringe on the federal agency’s discretionary enforcement prerogatives. Courts would thus seek guidance from federal agencies to determine whether a private right of action exists for the enforcement, via state law claims, of federal regulations.

Next is Agency Coordination in Consumer Protection, and the abstract provides:

The federalization of consumer protection has created thorny issues of agency coordination.  When multiple federal agencies interpret and enforce the same statute, should a single agency’s interpretation be accorded Chevron deference? Should it matter whether it is in synch, or at odds, with its fellow agencies?  This Article explores two agency coordination strategies that point in opposite directions. The first, a balkanization strategy, attempts to overcome the overlapping agency jurisdiction problem by urging agencies to create separate, non-overlapping spheres of authority to thereby regain Chevron deference due the agency that reigns supreme. We can expect “agency self-help measures” that stake out respective turfs to emerge from this strategy.  Courts have accepted the balkanization approach — carving out discrete fiefdoms from spheres of overlapping agency jurisdiction — and may accept it more readily as the jurisprudence after City of Arlington develops with regard to agency interpretations of jurisdiction. 

The second (and more novel) strategy, a model of judicial review as agency coordinator, exploits (rather than constrains) overlapping agency jurisdiction. Under this model, when faced with an interpretation by an agency that operates in shared regulatory space, courts would solicit input from the other relevant agencies. And, to the extent that there is agreement among the different agencies, Chevron deference would be especially warranted (regardless of whether all of those agencies were parties before the court), in sharp contrast to certain courts’ blanket stance that Chevron deference is inappropriate when multiple agencies interpret the same statute.

--CJR

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/tortsprof/2014/06/two-by-sharkey-on-the-role-of-agencies.html

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