Published at 21 Pace Law Review 103 (2001)

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The reach of Federal statutory preemption of inconsistent state law obligations has extended to numerous products liability subject matters, including most notably tobacco products, agricultural pesticides, medical devices and automobile air bags. The Supreme Court decision in Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc. countenanced a broad application of federal preemption when the subject statute contained an express preemption clause. Eight years later the Court appeared to back away from Cipollone, and held in Geier v. American Honda Motor Co. that even as to statutes with express preemption clauses, the simultaneous presence of a savings clause might trigger a narrow reading of the preemption provision. The potential effect of Geier upon lower court decisions in liability suits involving pesticides, medical devices, or even tobacco products, will necessarily be played out in litigation before lower courts for years to come.