Warner-Lambert Co. v. Kent

PETITIONER: Warner-Lambert Co., LLC, et al.
RESPONDENT: Kimberly Kent et al.
LOCATION: Earthquake Park

DOCKET NO.: 06-1498
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2006-2009)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 552 US 440 (2008)
GRANTED: Sep 25, 2007
ARGUED: Feb 25, 2008
DECIDED: Mar 03, 2008

ADVOCATES:
Allison M. Zieve - on behalf of the Respondents
Carter G. Phillips - on behalf of the Petitioners
Daryl Joseffer - on behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the Petitioners

Facts of the case

A group of Michigan residents who were injured after taking Warner- Lambert's Rezulin diabetes drug sued the company in Michigan state court. The plaintiffs invoked a Michigan tort reform statue immunizing drug makers' liability for FDA-approved products unless the drug makers made misrepresentations to the agency. The federal district court that eventually heard the case dismissed it, ruling that the Michigan "fraud on the FDA" cause of action was preempted by a federal law that empowered the FDA itself to punish misrepresentations. The appeals court reversed, reasoning that the Michigan law did not provide retribution for misrepresentations themselves, but merely created a window for consumers to bring product liability claims where the product reached the market solely through the manufacturer's chicanery.

Question

Does a federal law prohibiting fraudulent communications to government agencies preempt a state law permitting plaintiffs to sue for faulty products that would not have reached the market absent the fraud?

Media for Warner-Lambert Co. v. Kent

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 25, 2008 in Warner-Lambert Co. v. Kent

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 03, 2008 in Warner-Lambert Co. v. Kent

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

In case 06-1498 Warner-Lambert versus Kent, the judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.