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26 February 2008

Mayer Brown on winning side in three Supreme Court decisions relating to federal preemption of state law

20 February 2008.  The United States Supreme Court today issued three major decisions relating to the federal preemption of state law, and Mayer Brown lawyers were on the winning side in each case: Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc. (No. 06-179), Rowe v. New Hampshire Motor Transport Association (No. 06-457) and Preston v. Ferrer (No. 06-1463).

"These decisions directly affect medical device manufacturers, interstate shippers and companies that enter arbitration agreements, but are also tremendously important for all businesses that confront state-law requirements in federally regulated areas," said Mayer Brown Vice Chairman and Supreme Court & Appellate practice partner Kenneth S. Geller.

In Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc., in which Mayer Brown was co-counsel to Medtronic, the Court ruled that the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act preempts state-law tort claims challenging the design, manufacture and labeling of medical devices that are granted pre-market approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"The decision in Riegel is an important victory for medical device manufacturers and for patients whose lives depend upon access to their devices," said Mass Torts & Product Liability practice partner Daniel L. Ring. "Riegel ensures that the FDA's expert determination that a life-saving medical device should be available under specified conditions will not be thwarted by lay juries, who inevitably focus on the injuries allegedly suffered by individual plaintiffs without regard to the significant benefits conferred by the device on the many patients who are not represented in court."

In Preston v. Ferrer, in which Mayer Brown filed an amicus brief in support of the petitioner on behalf of CTIA - The Wireless Association, the Supreme Court held that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts a state law that required parties to submit to administrative proceedings notwithstanding the fact that the parties had contractually agreed to arbitrate their dispute.

 "The decision in Preston is an important reaffirmation of the federal policy that promotes arbitration," said Supreme Court & Appellate practice partner Andrew J. Pincus. "The decision makes it clear that a state may not impose an extra-contractual administrative exhaustion requirement on agreements to arbitrate. Moreover, it reaffirms that the FAA is not only applicable in state court, but also preempts contrary provisions of state law."

In Rowe v. New Hampshire Motor Transport Association, in which Mayer Brown filed an amicus brief in support of the respondent on behalf of the American Trucking Associations and the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, the Court held that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA) preempts two provisions of a Maine law regulating the shipment of tobacco to Maine consumers.

"This decision adopts a broad view of FAAAA preemption and is therefore of significance to motor carriers that rely on the FAAAA for protection from burdensome state regulations," said Supreme Court & Appellate practice partner Evan M. Tager. "Because Rowe reaffirms that the FAAAA's preemptive effect parallels that of the Airline Deregulation Act, the decision is also of significance to the airline industry."

The lawyers of Mayer Brown's Supreme Court & Appellate practice have argued more than 200 cases before the Supreme Court and hundreds more in federal and state appellate courts across the nation.  Client representations include briefing and arguing cases on the merits, petitioning for and opposing certiorari, submitting amicus briefs in cases that affect clients' interests, and assisting the firm's trial practices with pre- and post-trial motion support. Mayer Brown is listed as the sole national leader for appellate work by both Chambers USA 2007 and Legal 500 US, with Chambers declaring the group is "exceptionally strong across the board."  


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