Product Liability Preemption: Analyzing the Supreme Court’s New Decisions

Strategies for Asserting Preemption in an Uncertain Landscape

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

Conducted on Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will provide product liability counsel with an analysis of recent Supreme Court product liability cases, including the current state of the preemption defense in product liability litigation, claims that can survive a preemption defense, and strategies for litigating cases involving preemption issues.


Three Supreme Court decisions on preemption in the product liability area will significantly impact assertion of preemption as a defense. Yet, the Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, Williamson v. Mazda Motor of Am., and PLIVA v. Mensing decisions have not resulted in bright-line guidance for litigators.

Williamson may create challenges for defense attorneys in raising the preemption argument in defective product liability cases and in automobile product liability litigation.

The Court’s finding of preemption in PLIVA (involving a generic drug) will be analyzed in the context of the Court’s finding of no preemption in the 2009 decision in Levine v. Wyeth (involving a brand-name drug).

Listen as our panel of product liability attorneys analyzes the recent Supreme Court decisions and their implications for the future use of the preemption defense in product liability cases. The panel will discuss claims that may survive a preemption defense and strategies for litigation of cases in which preemption may be at issue.



  1. Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, Williamson v. Mazda Motor of America, and PLIVA, Inc. v. Mensing
      1. Majority opinion
      2. Dissent
  2. Case implications
      1. Significance of each decision—a big deal?
      2. Application of each decision—easy or difficult to apply?
      3. Interplay with other recent preemption decisions
      4. Broad implications
      5. Industry specific implications


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • Where do the recent Supreme Court decisions leave the federal preemption defense in product liability suits?
  • What strategies are available to litigation counsel when arguing for preemption in future product liability cases?
  • How will the Supreme Court decisions impact express and implied pre-emption cases in the future?

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


Deborah M. Russell
Deborah M. Russell

McGuire Woods

She co-leads the firm's Life Sciences Industry Group and has served as chair of the firm's Products Liability and...  |  Read More

Bryan C. Brantley
Bryan C. Brantley

McGuire Woods

His practice focuses on product and consumer litigation. He has been involved with numerous issues related to federal...  |  Read More

Caffrey, Sharon
Sharon L. Caffrey

Duane Morris

Ms. Caffrey concentrates her practice in the areas of mass tort, products liability and toxic tort litigation, with...  |  Read More

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