Lewis, Deceased v. Brunswick Corporation Page 16

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Media for Lewis, Deceased v. Brunswick Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 02, 1998 in Lewis, Deceased v. Brunswick Corporation

Anthony M. Kennedy:

I looked at the complaint briefly.

I didn't see a failure to warn--

Kenneth Steven Geller:

--There isn't a failure to warn claim in this case--

Anthony M. Kennedy:

--allegation here.

Kenneth Steven Geller:

--and it's an interesting question.

I'm not sure that I know the right answer, but I think the argument would be that if you allowed failure to warn claims in that situation it would impose pressure on manufacturers to put on the device that would eliminate the need to make the warning, and that would be a--

Anthony M. Kennedy:

Oh, no.

It would just... it would make them warn.

It would make them put labels on.

Kenneth Steven Geller:

--There are warning requirements in the act as well, Federal warning requirements, and it may be that those would preempt a State warning requirement, but that's not what we have here.

This is a pure design requirement.

They're saying this boat is defective because it didn't have a propeller guard, and what I'm saying is that section 4306 addresses that question precisely and says that the... what equipment a boat operating in interstate commerce should have is a question reserved to the Coast Guard.

William H. Rehnquist:

Well, Mr. Geller, it's... you say that a propeller is regarded as associated equipment for the board--

Kenneth Steven Geller:

Yes.

William H. Rehnquist:

--for the boat?

Kenneth Steven Geller:

Yes.

William H. Rehnquist:

It's not a part of the boat itself.

Kenneth Steven Geller:

It's defined in Coast Guard regulations as associated equipment.

William H. Rehnquist:

So there's a little bit different language about associated equipment than there is for the vessel itself, isn't there?

One says, imposing a requirement for associated equipment, and for the boat it says, enforce a law or regulation establishing performance or other safety standard.

Kenneth Steven Geller:

Right, and we are relying... this case involves the section of 4306 that talks about imposing a equipment for associated--

William H. Rehnquist:

A requirement.

Kenneth Steven Geller:

--A requirement for associated equipment, that's right.

Antonin Scalia:

Mr. Geller, can I come back and ask you for another example of how the savings clause would apply State law, other than a State law that had been exempted under 4305?

Kenneth Steven Geller:

There are many types... first of all, I'm not sure that Congress necessarily had in mind a specific situation.

They were told--

Antonin Scalia:

I don't need many.

Just give me a couple.

Kenneth Steven Geller:

--Yes.

Any case in which State law has a role to play.