Wednesday, February 29, 2012

SCOTUS Decision on Preemption: Kurns v. Railroad Friction Products Corp.

Today, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Kurns v. Railroad Friction Products, covered earlier here. Justice Thomas wrote the majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Alito and Kagan. Justice Kagan filed a separate concurring opinion as well.

Justice Sotomayor wrote an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, which was joined by Justices Breyer and Ginsburg.

Justice Thomas’s majority opinion begins:

This case requires us to determine whether petitioners’ state-law tort claims for defective design and failure to warn are pre-empted by the Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA), 49 U. S. C. §20701 et seq. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit determined that petitioners’ claims fall within the field pre-empted by that Act, as that field was defined by this Court’s decision in Napier v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 272 U. S. 605 (1926). We agree.


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