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Preemption News: Supreme Court Resolves Levine Against Wyeth.

news | March 4, 2009

On March 4, 2009, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that plaintiff Diana Levine could sue the drugmaker Wyeth for injuries she suffered after receiving the antinausea drug Phenergan. Click here to view the opinion.  The medicine was inadvertently injected into one of Levine’s arteries during a push IV injection, resulting in gangrene which required the amputation of most of her right arm.  Wyeth argued that the suit should be pre-empted by federal drug regulations.  In the majority opinion, Justice Stevens said FDA oversight of drug labeling does not prevent state-level consumer liability lawsuits against drug companies. The ruling affirms a $6.7 million verdict.

Hollingsworth LLP filed two amicus briefs in support of Wyeth’s position, one on behalf of The Washington Legal Foundation and the American College of Emergency Physicians (click here to view the brief), and the other on behalf of economists John E. Calfee, Ernst R. Berndt, Robert Hahn, Tomas Philipson, Paul H. Rubin, and W. Kip Viscusi (click here to view the brief).