Riegel v. Medtronic in Light of the Recent Trend in Preemption Cases: A Case for Amending the Medical Device Act

June 16, 2012

The Medical Device Act of 1976 governs the Food and Drug Administration’s premarket approval process for medical devices. In Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc., the United States Supreme Court held that the Act preempts state tort claims against medical device manufacturers. This Recent Development contends that the Court appropriately decided Riegel in light of its recent trend towards amore textual approach to statutory interpretation in federalism cases in the administrative context. Post-Riegel decisions ,however, are improper in view of legislative intent and unfavorably deprive plaintiffs of state tort remedies. Congress should now amend the Medical Device Act in order to clarify its purpose and to produce the effect originally intended.