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Federal Action on Cell Phone Radiation Preempts Claims Under State Law
Description Suit against cellular phone maker, alleging health risks from radiation, dismissed due to federal supremacy. Congress gave exclusive power to the FDA to regulate radiation levels; although the FDA has not acted, the federal act preempts claims under various state laws.
Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words Federal Preemption; Supremacy
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Schiffner sued Motorola for breach of implied warranty under the UCC, consumer fraud, and violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, contending that its cellular telephones caused health problems. Trial court dismissed the suit, holding that the causes of action were preempted by federal law. Schiffner appealed.
Decision Affirmed. The Electronic Product Radiation Control Act preempts state law. That Act gives the FDA power to regulate electronic products that emit radiation. "The principles of federal preemption are well established. The doctrine of preemption is based on the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution." There have been no federal court cases under this statute, but legal history is clear that federal law preempts state law claims. The fact that the FDA has set no standards does not extinguish the intent of Congress to relegate authority to a federal agency.
Citation Schiffner v. Motorola, Inc., 1998 WL 348202 (Slip Copy, App. Ct., Ill.)
697 N. E. 2d 868 (App. Ct., Ill., 1998)

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