Supreme Court Clarifies Ability of Farmers to Sue Pesticide Manufacturers
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There are several situations that a farmer may face that will limit the farmer’s ability to sue a manufacturer on a product liability claim.1 One of these involves damages arising from the use of registered pesticides. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act,2 limits the ability of injured parties to sue pesticide manufacturers on either an inadequate labeling or wrongful death claim basis. A significant question has been whether state law damage claims for pesticide-related agricultural crop injury are pre-empted by FIFRA and whether FIFRA pre-emption of damage claims is limited to the specific subjects that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reviews at the time it first approves a pesticide product’s labeling. The recent opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court in Bates, et al. v. Dow Agrosciences LLC3 provides important guidance on how courts are to analyze FIFRA preemption claims in the future.