Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Whose Product Liability?
"A federal judge threw out lawsuits on behalf of thousands of patients with heart-defibrillator wires that have been shown to fracture and dispatch potentially lethal shocks, concluding that a recent Supreme Court opinion made the dismissals inevitable. U.S. District Judge Richard H. Kyle in Minneapolis dismissed the lawsuits, citing the February decision that federal law 'pre-empts' product-liability lawsuits under state law, effectively precluding such cases. That decision triggered an effort in Congress to change the law, one that will almost certainly intensify under the new Democratic Congress. ... Medtronic Chief Executive Bill Hawkins lauded the decision as supporting 'the principle that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is the appropriate body to determine the safety and efficacy of innovative technologies.' ... The lead was marketed based not on any multiyear study in hundreds of human patients, but rather on 'bench testing' of the product in a laboratory to determine how easily it might fail by putting multiple stresses on it. ... Judge Kyle took the unusual step in his opinion of noting his apparent discomfort with the result. 'The Court recogizes that at least some plaintiffs have suffered injuries from using Sprint Fidelis leads, and the Court is not unsympathetic to their plight,' he wrote. Neverthless, he said, the plaintiffs' remedy 'lies with Congress'," my emphasis, Thomas Burton at the WSJ, 7 January 2009.
Hawkins is a fool, or worse. Lower courts must follow clear Supreme Court precedent, which is all Kyle did. Kyle asks Congress to reverse Wyeth. It is ususual for a District Judge to say in effect, "I disagree with the Supremes, but am stuck. Congress, reverse these fools". Those who think we can develop nuclear warheads using only computer simulations should read this. If Mr. Obama wants, he can become our "Andrew Jackson". Obama? He can push legislation and overturn Wyeth. Then when our "constitutional scholar" signs it in the Oval Office, with all Supremes present, he hands John Roberts (JR) the pen in front of tens of millions. We'll see how long it takes even corrupt, arrogant, superior, JR to get the hint and return (publicly) to Hogan & Hartson! See my 16 November 2008 post, link: http://skepticaltexascpa.blogspot.com/2008/11/product-liability-and-supremes.html. See also my 26 January 2008 post, link: http://skepticaltexascpa.blogspot.com/2008/01/supreme-injustice.html.