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Feb 2008
25
February 25, 2008

Supreme Court Rules for Medical Device Manufacturers, Against 401(k) Administrators

The U.S. Supreme Court on February, 20, 2008, issued two decisions of interest to the business community.

In Riegel v. Medtronics, Inc., the Supreme Court granted a major victory to medical device manufacturers. In an 8-1 decision, the Court held that federal law preempts state law tort liability for devices that have passed the Food and Drug Administration's pre-market approval process. The Court based its decision on a strict interpretation of the preemption clause of the Medical Device Amendments of 1976, 21 U.S.C. § 360k(a), which prohibits states from imposing any requirement on medical devices that is different from or in addition to requirements the federal government has established. A copy of the opinion can be found at http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/06-179.ZS.html.

In LaRue v. DeWolff, Boberg & Associates, the Court unanimously ruled that individual workers can sue over mismanagement of an ERISA retirement plan. In the past, courts have interpreted the law to permit a breach of fiduciary duty claim only where an employer has injured all plan participants. The case involves plaintiff LaRue's claim that he suffered $150,000 in damages when his employer's 401(k) program administrator failed to make certain changes that LaRue requested be made to his investment plan. A copy of the opinion can be found at http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/06-856.ZC.html.

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