Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc.

PETITIONER: Cipollone
RESPONDENT: Liggett Group, Inc.
LOCATION: Residence of Rose Cipollone

DOCKET NO.: 90-1038
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 505 US 504 (1992)
REARGUED: Jan 13, 1992
DECIDED: Jun 24, 1992
ARGUED: Oct 08, 1991

ADVOCATES:
H. Bartow Farr, III - Argued the cause for the respondents
Marc Z. Edell - Argued the cause for the petitioner

Facts of the case

Rose Cipollone died at 58 from lung cancer. She smoked for 42 years. Before her death, she and her husband sued several cigarette manufacturers in federal court for damages resulting from Mrs. Cipollone lung cancer. A trial court judgment of $400,000 was reserved in the U.S. Court of Appeals. The Cipollone family appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Question

Do federally mandated cigarette warnings pre-empt the Cipollones' common law claims against cigarette manufacturers?

Media for Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Reargument - January 13, 1992 in Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc.
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 08, 1991 in Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 24, 1992 in Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc.

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in No. 90-1038, Cipollone against the Liggett Group, Inc. will be announced by Justice Stevens.

John Paul Stevens:

This is a case that was in the Federal Court because the diversity of citizenship of the parties.

It comes to us from the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and involves common law claims against cigarette manufacturers.

The claims arise out of injuries sustained by petitioner's mother caused by her cigaret smoking.

The Court of Appeals ruled that most of the claims were preempted by the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965 and by a subsequent law enacted in 1969.

The court, therefore, refused to allow the jury to consider evidence concerning the cigarette manufacturers' conduct after 1965.

Both the 1965 Act and the 1969 Act include provisions that preempt state law to a certain extent.

The two provisions are, however, significantly different.

The 1965 statute provides that no statement relating to smoking and health shall be required in the advertising of any cigarettes, the packages of which are labeled in conformity with the statute thus, focusing on particular statements that might be required by state law.

The 1969 Act, however, is significantly broader because it provides that no requirement or prohibition based on smoking and health shall be imposed under state law.

Our decision today is based upon our understanding of those two expressed preemption provisions and discusses them separately.

First, we conclude that the preemption provision of the 1965 Act only prevented states from mandating particular warning labels on cigarette packages and therefore, did not preempt any of petitioner's common law claims.

Justice Scalia, in an opinion joined by Justice Thomas, dissents from this aspect of the Court's ruling.

Second, we conclude that the 1969 Act did preempt some of those common law claims.

In particular, we conclude that the 1969 Act expressly preempted petitioner's claim that cigarette manufacturers failed to warn consumers about the hazards of smoking in their advertisements or promotions as well as this claim that the manufacturers neutralized the warnings that federal law required them to place in cigarette advertising.

Justice Blackmun, in an opinion joined by Justice Kennedy and Justice Souter, dissents from this aspect of the Court's holding.

They find no preemption.

Finally, we conclude that the 1969 Act did not preempt petitioner's remaining claims based on breach of express warranties and fraudulent misrepresentations.

Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas dissent from this ruling.

For these reasons that are explained at length in the three opinions filed with the Clerk, we affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the Court of Appeals.