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Caplinger v. Medtronic, Inc.

Topic(s): Preemption of Consumer Remedies
Docket: 15-321



In this products liability action, a woman sued a medical device manufacturer that promoted its product for an unapproved use and caused her significant injury. The manufacturer claimed that the patient's claims were preempted by the Medical Device Amendments to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic 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 served as co-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. In April 2015, the court of appeals ruled for Medtronic and in May 2015, the court denied a petition for rehearing. In September 2015, we filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court denied the petition in January 2016, ending the case.

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