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Hughes v. Boston Scientific Corporation

Topic(s): Preemption of Consumer Remedies
Date Of Involvement: 12/01/2009

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In this products liability action, a Mississippi woman is suing a medical device manufacturer whose product malfunctioned in the course of a medical procedure, causing severe burns. The manufacturer claimed that the patient's claims were preempted by the Medical Device Act as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Riegel v. Medtronic and Buckman v. Plaintiffs' Legal Committee, which held that the federal Act preempts state common-law claims based on duties that are in addition to those imposed on manufacturers by the Act (Riegel) or that seek recoveries for violations of duties owed by manufacturers only to the FDA under the Act (Buckman). The district court agreed with the manufacturer and dismissed the claims in their entirety. Public Citizen Litigation Group is lead counsel for the plaintiff on appeal, arguing that the claims are not preempted because they are based on state-law duties that parallel federal requirements under the Act. The Fifth Circuit ruled that, under a pair of Supreme Court decisions (also argued by Public Citizen Litigation Group lawyers), claims based on state common-law duties that parallel the requirements of federal law are not preempted.