Federal Pre-Emption After Wyeth v. Levine

Analyzing the Supreme Court’s Sweeping New Decision; Implications for Product Liability Litigation

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Course Materials

This seminar will provide a comprehensive analysis of the Wyeth v. Levine ruling, including the current state of the pre-emption defense in product liability litigation, claims that can survive a pre-emption defense, and strategies for litigating cases involving pre-emption issues.


On March 4, 2009, the Supreme Court ruled against Wyeth in a landmark product liability case that will impact all federally regulated industries. Wyeth v. Levine represents a sea change in using the federal pre-emption doctrine as a defense against state tort suits.

The Wyeth decision holds that the FDA’s approval of drugs and their warning labels does not pre-empt stricter state tort laws that allow plaintiffs to sue for injuries sustained while using the drug. It is the third pre-emption opinion issued by the Supreme Court in recent years.

What is the future of the federal pre-emption defense after Wyeth? What issues does the ruling leave open?

Listen as our panel of attorneys analyzes the Wyeth v. Levine ruling and its implications for the future use of the pre-emption defense. The panel will discuss claims that can survive a pre-emption defense and strategies for litigation of cases in which pre-emption may be at issue.



  1. Wyeth v. Levine, No. 06-1249
    1. Majority opinion
    2. Dissent
  2. Case implications
    1. Significance of decision — a big deal?
    2. Application of decision — easy or difficult to apply?
    3. Interplay with other recent pre-emption decisions
    4. Broad implications
    5. Industry specific implications


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • Where does Wyeth v. Levine leave the federal pre-emption defense in product liability suits?
  • How will Wyeth impact express and implied pre-emption cases in the future?
  • What strategies are available to litigation counsel when arguing for pre-emption in future product liability cases?

Following the speaker presentations, you'll have an opportunity to get answers to your specific questions during the interactive Q&A.


Scott H. Angstreich
Scott H. Angstreich

Kellogg Huber Hansen Todd Evans & Figel

He represented Diana Levine in the Wyeth v. Levine case. He has argued 24 cases in nine different United States Courts...  |  Read More

J. Russell Jackson
J. Russell Jackson

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom

He represents companies in class actions and multijurisdictional litigation involving allegations of products liability...  |  Read More

Steven B. Weisburd
Steven B. Weisburd


His practice includes general business litigation, class action defense, Mass Torts and Products Liability, and...  |  Read More

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