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Wayne Parsons
Wayne Parsons
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Obama undoes Bush pre-emption policies.

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The AP (5/21, Yost) reports, "The Obama White House on Wednesday undid a Bush administration policy that used federal regulations to undermine a wide range of state health, safety and environmental laws" many of which "limited the ability of injured consumers to sue companies in state courts." This is the latest move by the Obama administration to undo pre-emption policy. Kenneth Baer, communications director at the White House Office of Management and Budget, said, "When it comes to pre-emption, we’re saying no more of their approach." Now, "the Obama administration will ask agencies to go back and find Bush-era regulations that contain pre-emption language in the preambles or in the body of the regulations and that are not justified by law." Les Weisbrod, president of the American Association for Justice, said "the Obama administration has ‘overturned actions taken by Bush administration bureaucrats who were influenced by powerful, well-connected corporations.’"

The Wall Street Journal (5/21, Mundy, Kendall) reports, "The memo didn’t name specific industries but it could affect a wide range of consumer products subject to both federal and state regulation." The Chamber of Commerce’s Bryan Quigley said, "Allowing for more lawsuits will not create more jobs, except maybe for plaintiffs’ lawyers." However, a statement by the American Association for Justice said, "The move will buttress ‘laws designed to give Americans basic rights to hold wrongdoers accountable.’"

BusinessWeek (5/21, Francis) reports, "Lauded by the plaintiffs’ bar and downplayed by some business groups, Obama’s decision reverses a highly charged Bush Administration practice and could help rewrite the legal landscape for everything from pharmaceuticals and beauty products to car safety equipment, mattress flammability, and food sweeteners." Les Weisbord, president of AAJ said, "On behalf of the thousands of people whose cases have been affected by complete immunity preemption, we are heartened by the Presidential memo released today." He added, "The Obama memo on regulatory preemption makes clear that the rule of law will once again prevail over the rule of politics."

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  1. JILL PAUL RN says:
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    Great article, Wayne. However, President Obama’s memo was extremely disappointing to those who have been victims of faulty medical devices. In essence, President Obama is saying that the rule of politics still prevails with respect to faulty medical devices – Pharmaceuticals, car safety equipment, mattresses, and food sweeteners take priority. The Medical Device Safety Act S540/HR1346 must be passed and passed immediately to protect the innocent victims of faulty medical devices and restore their legal rights. If you or a loved one has been injured by a faulty medical device, please sign the Medical Device Safety Act Petition which can be found at
    http://www.PetitionOnline.com/tftwj23/petition.html
    I also encourage each and everyone of you to write/email your respective Senators and Congressmen/Women to enlist their support of this very important bill. Thank you.