One Ring, to rule them all

The Chicago Tribune carries this story:

New Orleans – If you think the prescription drug you took for headaches caused your heart attack, the Food and Drug Administration says you can’t sue the maker for injury if it met agency standards.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission says you can’t sue a mattress maker if your mattress bursts into flame despite meeting CPSC standards. Companies making sport utility vehicles would get similar protection from suits brought by people injured or the families of those killed in rollovers under National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposals for stronger roofs.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys call it “silent tort reform.” But it’s part of tension existing since the nation’s founding: conflict between state and federal law.

If they clash, state laws give way. That’s in Article Six of the Constitution. But in areas where there is no federal law, federal courts must defer to laws of the state where a lawsuit is heard. That includes product liability.

A developing body of judicial opinion could place new limits on the rights of those who buy or use products, consumer advocates say. It also could mean the savings of billions of dollars by companies insulated from lawsuits.

What’s riling plaintiffs’ lawyers, consumer groups and some regulators is agencies’ assertions their rules override state product liability laws. Most such claims are rooted in statements in the introductions to their rules, not the rules themselves.

“These pre-emption preambles may be only the beginning,” New York University law professor Catherine Sharkey wrote in the DePaul Law Review. She projected preambles may “displace competing or conflicting state regulations or common law as a matter of course.”

We have seen how the OCC has pre-empted financial regulation from states through administrative action without much discussion. Devices have been pre-empted from the injury lawsuit as well.

Now, is this giving new meaning to the word captured, and what is being captured? And what words describe the process? And are other areas of life be captured in similar fashion?

And we are shrinking their resources?

Update: The real issue here is the stealth issue, massive changes without public discussion. I would have as much concern if federal law was torn to shreds by “states rights” advocates. My assumption is the issue is used to screen and confuse the real interests behind the push, which usually is public policy and needs lights and transparency before the impact is felt that the changes cause, and then forced into the open, for “good” or “bad”. The second issue is what the changes are about, which at least is debated in the examples in comments. The rather glib “sue the FDA” answer turns our current system on its head.

The shutting down of court redress for product liability is huge whether you think it should be changed or not. The strangling of a regulatory agencies resources to provide reasonable assurances of safety and that provides a shield for product liabilities, intended or not, creates far reaching impacts on our legal system.