Product Liability -- 2011

Bruesewitz v. Wyeth   (U.S. Supreme Court)

Preemption of design defect claims under National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act

The Supreme ruled 6 to 2 on Feb. 22, 2011, that language in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 preempts all design-defect claims made under state product liability laws. The Court ruled that the statute immunizes manufacturers from liability as long as the vaccine was properly prepared and was accompanied by proper directions and warnings. It established a compensation program that allows those parties that are injured by unavoidable vaccine side effects to receive compensation from a no-fault compensation fund, or reject such compensation and sue for damages in court. The Court's ruling means that the suit in court cannot be for defective design of the vaccine, but rather must entail defective manufacture or warnings.