A case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court has the potential of stripping consumer rights established over long years of legislative and judicial processes. The case involves the doctrine of preemption, and specifically relates to a medical device approved for sale by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
Preemption is a doctrine pushed hard by big business, Republican legislators, and conservative judicial activists. The gist is that if a product is approved by a federal agency, and then is found to be defective, consumers are prohibited from suing the manufacturer. An unspoken but necessary component of preemption is the emasculation of federal agencies through the budget process. In other words, starve the agencies so they can no longer subject new products to adequate testing, then when the unsafe products are approved, declare them to be beyond the scope of personal injury lawsuits. It’s a beautiful thing if you happen to be a manufacturer. It’s raw politics at its ugliest if you happen to be an injured consumer.
The Web site LawyersAndSettlements.com has a good article on the current preemption case, involving a Medtronic balloon catheter.