In Bates v. Dow Agrosciences LLC, the US. Supreme Court took a narrow view of the preemptive effect of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Lower courts had previously read FIFRA to preempt virtually all state tort liability for inadequate labeling and failure to warn. As a result, pesticide manufacturers enjoyed years of virtually no liability for the injuries caused by their products. This Comment supports the holding of Bates. Unlike an earlier labeling statute for cigarettes, FIFRA confronted a heterogeneous and dynamic product market. In such a market, a decentralized state tort regime provides the best regulatory structure. The prophylactic effect of federal preemption in such areas results in grievous externalities that outweigh the social costs of litigation. Hence, the policy rationales underlying the Bates decision counsel careful consideration when using federal preemption as a general method of tort reform.
Pesticides, Preemption, and the Return of Tort Protection,
Yale J. on Reg.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjreg/vol23/iss2/6