BATES v. DOW AGROSCIENCES LLC


Syllabus

BATES v. DOW AGROSCIENCES LLC ( No. 03-388 )
332 F. 3d 323, vacated and remanded.

BATES et al. <font i="1">v. DOW AGROSCIENCES LLC

certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit


No. 03–388.Argued January 10, 2005—Decided April 27, 2005

Petitioner Texas peanut farmers allege that their crops were severely damaged by the application of respondent’s (Dow) “Strongarm” pesticide, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered pursuant to its authority under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Petitioners gave Dow notice of their intent to sue, claiming that Strongarm’s label recommended its use in all peanut-growing areas when Dow knew or should have known that it would stunt the growth of peanuts in their soil, which had pH levels of at least 7.0. In response, Dow sought a declaratory judgment in the Federal District Court, asserting that FIFRA pre-empted petitioners’ claims. Petitioners counterclaimed, raising several state-law claims sounding in strict liability, negligence, fraud, and breach of express warranty. The District Court rejected one claim on state-law grounds and found the others barred by FIFRA’s pre-emption provision, 7 U. S. C. §136v(b). Affirming, the Fifth Circuit held that §136v(b) expressly pre-empted the state-law claims because a judgment against Dow would induce it to alter its product label.

Held:

1. Under FIFRA, which was comprehensively amended in 1972, a manufacturer must obtain permission to market a pesticide by submitting a proposed label and supporting data to EPA, which will register the pesticide if it is efficacious, it will not cause unreasonable adverse effects on humans and the environment, and its label complies with the statute’s misbranding prohibition. A pesticide is “misbranded” if its label, for example, contains a statement that is “false or misleading,” §136(q)(1)(A), or lacks adequate instructions or warnings, §§136(q)(1)(F), (G). A State may regulate the sale and use of federally registered pesticides to the extent that regulation does not permit any sales or uses prohibited by FIFRA, §136v(a), but “[s]uch State shall not impose or continue in effect any requirements for labeling or packaging in addition to or different from those required under [FIFRA],” §136v(b). Though tort litigation against pesticide manufacturers was a common feature of the legal landscape in 1972, after this Court held in Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U. S. 504, that the term “requirement” in the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1969 included common-law duties, and therefore pre-empted certain tort claims against cigarette companies, courts began holding that §136v(b) pre-empted claims such as petitioners’. Pp. 4–9.

2. FIFRA’s pre-emption provision applies only to state-law “requirements for labeling or packaging.” §136v(b). While the Fifth Circuit was correct that “requirements” embraces both positive enactments and common-law duties, it erred in supposing that petitioners’ defective design, defective manufacture, negligent testing, and breach of express warranty claims were premised on requirements for labeling or packaging. None of the common-law rules upon which these claims are based requires that manufacturers label or package their products in any particular way. The Fifth Circuit reached a contrary conclusion by reasoning that a finding of liability on these claims would induce Dow to alter its label. This was error because the prohibitions of §136v(b) apply only to “requirements.” A requirement is a rule of law that must be obeyed; an event, such as a jury verdict, that merely motives an optional decision is not a requirement. The proper inquiry calls for an examination of the elements of the common-law duty at issue, not for speculation as to whether a jury verdict will prompt the manufacturer to change its label. Pp. 9–13.

3. Petitioners’ fraud and negligent-failure-to-warn claims, by contrast, are based on common-law rules that qualify as “requirements for labeling or packaging,” since these rules set a standard for a product’s labeling that Dow is alleged to have violated. While these common-law rules are subject to §136v(b), it does not automatically follow that they are pre-empted. Unlike the pre-emption clause in Cipollone, §136v(b) prohibits only state-law labeling requirements that are “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s labeling requirements. Thus, §136v(b) pre-empts any statutory or common-law rule that would impose a labeling requirement that diverges from those set out in FIFRA and its implementing regulations. It does not pre-empt a state-law requirement that is equivalent to, and fully consistent with, FIFRA’s labeling standards. This “parallel requirements” reading of §136v(b) finds strong support in Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U. S. 470. Thus, although FIFRA does not provide a federal remedy to those injured as a result of a manufacturer’s violation of FIFRA’s labeling requirements, nothing in §136v(b) precludes States from providing such a remedy. Dow’s contrary reading of §136v(b) fails to make sense of the phrase “in addition to or different from.” Even if Dow offered a plausible alternative reading of §136v(b), this Court would have a duty to accept the reading disfavoring pre-emption. See New York State Conference of Blue Cross & Blue Shield Plans v. Travelers Ins. Co., 514 U. S. 645. The long history of tort litigation against manufacturers of poisonous substances adds force to the presumption against pre-emption, for Congress surely would have expressed its intention more clearly if it had meant to deprive injured parties of a long available form of compensation. Moreover, this history emphasizes the importance of providing an incentive to manufacturers to use the utmost care in distributing inherently dangerous items. Finally, the policy objections raised against this Court’s reading of §136v(b) are unpersuasive. Pp. 13–20.

4. Under the “parallel requirements” reading of §136v(b), a state-law labeling requirement must be equivalent to its federal counterpart to avoid pre-emption. State law need not, however, explicitly incorporate FIFRA’s standards as an element of a cause of action. Because this Court has not received sufficient briefing on whether the Texas law governing petitioners’ fraud and failure-to-warn claims is equivalent to FIFRA’s misbranding standards and any relevant regulations, it is up to the Fifth Circuit to resolve the issue in the first instance. Pp. 20–21.

332 F. 3d 323, vacated and remanded.

Stevens, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and O’Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined. Breyer, J., filed a concurring opinion. Thomas, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part, in which Scalia, J., joined.


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CDInPart

DENNIS BATES, et al. , PETITIONERS v. DOW
AGROSCIENCES LLC

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit


[April 27, 2005]

Justice Thomas , with whom Justice Scalia joins, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.

I agree with the Court that the term “requirements” in §24(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U. S. C. §136v(b), includes common-law duties for labeling or packaging. Ante , at 10. I also agree that state-law damages claims may not impose requirements “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s. Ante , at 19–21. While States are free to impose liability predicated on a violation of the federal standards set forth in FIFRA and in any accompanying regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, they may not impose liability for labeling requirements predicated on distinct state standards of care. Section 136v(b) permits States to add remedies—not to alter or augment the substantive rules governing liability for labeling. See Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U. S. 470, 513 (1996) ( O’Connor, J. , concurring in part and dissenting in part). Because the parties have not argued that Dow violated FIFRA’s labeling standards,* * the majority properly remands for the District Court to consider whether Texas law mirrors the federal standards.

However, the majority omits a step in its reasoning that should be made explicit: A state-law cause of action, even if not specific to labeling, nevertheless imposes a labeling requirement “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s when it attaches liability to statements on the label that do not produce liability under FIFRA. The state-law cause of action then adds some supplemental requirement of truthfulness to FIFRA’s requirement that labeling statements not be “false or misleading.” 7 U. S. C. §136(q)(1)(A). That is why the fraud claims here are properly remanded to determine whether the state and federal standards for liability-incurring statements are, in their application to this case, the same. See ante, at 20–21.

Under that reasoning, the majority mistreats two sets of petitioners’ claims. First, petitioners’ breach-of-warranty claims should be remanded for pre-emption analysis, contrary to the majority’s disposition, see ante , at 11–12. To the extent that Texas’ law of warranty imposes liability for statements on the label where FIFRA would not, Texas’ law is pre-empted. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U. S. 504, 551 (1992) ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). Second, the majority holds that petitioners’ claim under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) is not pre-empted to the extent it is a breach-of-warranty claim. Ante, at 12, n. 18. However, the DTPA claim is also (and, in fact, perhaps exclusively) a claim for false or misleading representations on the label. App. 185–186. Therefore, all aspects of the DTPA claim should be remanded. The DTPA claim, like petitioners’ fraud claims, should be pre-empted insofar as it imposes liability for label content where FIFRA would not.

I also note that, despite the majority’s reference to a failure-to-warn claim, ante, at 9–10, n. 15, petitioners have not advanced an actual failure-to-warn claim. Instead, the Court of Appeals treated petitioners’ claims for negligent testing and defective design and manufacture as “disguised claim[s] for failure to warn.” 332 F. 3d 323, 332–333 (CA5 2003). If petitioners offer no evidence on remand that Dow erred in the testing, design, or manufacture of Strongarm, these claims will fail on the merits. On that point, I take the majority to agree. Ante, at 9–10, n. 15.

We need go no further to resolve this case. The ordinary meaning of §136v(b)’s terms makes plain that some of petitioners’ state-law causes of action may be pre-empted. Yet the majority advances several arguments designed to tip the scales in favor of the States and against the Federal Government. These arguments, in addition to being unnecessary, are unpersuasive. For instance, the majority states that the presumption against pre-emption requires choosing the interpretation of §136v(b) that disfavors pre-emption. Ante , at 16–17. That presumption does not apply, however, when Congress has included within a statute an express pre-emption provision. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., supra, at 545–546 ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part); Nelson, Preemption, 86 Va. L. Rev. 225, 291–292, 298–303 (2000). Section 136v(b) is an explicit statement that FIFRA pre-empts some state-law claims. Thus, our task is to determine which state-law claims §136v(b) pre-empts, without slanting the inquiry in favor of either the Federal Government or the States.

The history of tort litigation against manufacturers is also irrelevant. Ante , at 17. We cannot know, without looking to the text of §136v(b), whether FIFRA preserved that tradition or displaced it. The majority notes that Congress must have intended to preserve common-law suits, because the legislative history does not indicate that Congress meant to abrogate such suits. Ante , at 19–20, n. 26; see also Small v. United States , ante , at __ ( Thomas, J. , dissenting) (criticizing novel practice of relying on silence in the legislative history); Koons Buick Pontiac GMC, Inc. v. Nigh , 543 U. S. ___, ___ (2004) (slip op., at 5) ( Scalia , J., dissenting) (same). For the Court, then, enacting a pre-emption provision is not enough: either Congress must speak with added specificity in the statute (to avoid the presumption against pre-emption) or some individual Members of Congress or congressional committees must display their preference for pre-emption in the legislative record (to avoid a new canon of congressional silence). But the Court does not believe its own test, for it agrees that §136v(b) stands to abrogate many common-law causes of action. On remand, for example, petitioners may be unable to pursue a traditional common-law suit under Texas’ law of fraud. Finally, while allowing additional state-law remedies likely aids in enforcing FIFRA’s misbranding requirements, ante , at 18, it is for Congress, not this Court, to strike a balance between state tort suits and federal regulation.

Because we need only determine the ordinary meaning of §136v(b), the majority rightly declines to address respondent’s argument that petitioners’ claims are subject to other types of pre-emption. Brief for Respondent 36–37. For instance, the majority does not ask whether FIFRA’s regulatory scheme is “so pervasive,” and the federal interest in labeling “so dominant,” that there is no room for States to provide additional remedies. Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U. S. 218, 230 (1947) . Nor does the majority ask whether enforcement of state-law labeling claims would “stan[d] as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress” in enacting FIFRA. Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U. S. 52, 67 (1941) .

Today’s decision thus comports with this Court’s increasing reluctance to expand federal statutes beyond their terms through doctrines of implied pre-emption. See Camps Newfound/Owatonna, Inc. v. Town of Harrison, 520 U. S. 564, 617 (1997) ( Thomas, J. , dissenting). This reluctance reflects that pre-emption analysis is not “[a] freewheeling judicial inquiry into whether a state statute is in tension with federal objectives,” Gade v. National Solid Wastes Management Assn., 505 U. S. 88, 111 (1992) ( Kennedy, J. , concurring in part and concurring in judgment), but an inquiry into whether the ordinary meanings of state and federal law conflict.


Notes

* * Petitioners’ counterclaim expressly disclaims that Dow violated any provision of FIFRA. App. 192 (First Amended Counterclaim).


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CDInPart

DENNIS BATES, et al. , PETITIONERS v. DOW
AGROSCIENCES LLC

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit


[April 27, 2005]

Justice Thomas , with whom Justice Scalia joins, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.

I agree with the Court that the term “requirements” in §24(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U. S. C. §136v(b), includes common-law duties for labeling or packaging. Ante , at 10. I also agree that state-law damages claims may not impose requirements “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s. Ante , at 19–21. While States are free to impose liability predicated on a violation of the federal standards set forth in FIFRA and in any accompanying regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, they may not impose liability for labeling requirements predicated on distinct state standards of care. Section 136v(b) permits States to add remedies—not to alter or augment the substantive rules governing liability for labeling. See Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U. S. 470, 513 (1996) ( O’Connor, J. , concurring in part and dissenting in part). Because the parties have not argued that Dow violated FIFRA’s labeling standards,* * the majority properly remands for the District Court to consider whether Texas law mirrors the federal standards.

However, the majority omits a step in its reasoning that should be made explicit: A state-law cause of action, even if not specific to labeling, nevertheless imposes a labeling requirement “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s when it attaches liability to statements on the label that do not produce liability under FIFRA. The state-law cause of action then adds some supplemental requirement of truthfulness to FIFRA’s requirement that labeling statements not be “false or misleading.” 7 U. S. C. §136(q)(1)(A). That is why the fraud claims here are properly remanded to determine whether the state and federal standards for liability-incurring statements are, in their application to this case, the same. See ante, at 20–21.

Under that reasoning, the majority mistreats two sets of petitioners’ claims. First, petitioners’ breach-of-warranty claims should be remanded for pre-emption analysis, contrary to the majority’s disposition, see ante , at 11–12. To the extent that Texas’ law of warranty imposes liability for statements on the label where FIFRA would not, Texas’ law is pre-empted. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U. S. 504, 551 (1992) ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). Second, the majority holds that petitioners’ claim under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) is not pre-empted to the extent it is a breach-of-warranty claim. Ante, at 12, n. 18. However, the DTPA claim is also (and, in fact, perhaps exclusively) a claim for false or misleading representations on the label. App. 185–186. Therefore, all aspects of the DTPA claim should be remanded. The DTPA claim, like petitioners’ fraud claims, should be pre-empted insofar as it imposes liability for label content where FIFRA would not.

I also note that, despite the majority’s reference to a failure-to-warn claim, ante, at 9–10, n. 15, petitioners have not advanced an actual failure-to-warn claim. Instead, the Court of Appeals treated petitioners’ claims for negligent testing and defective design and manufacture as “disguised claim[s] for failure to warn.” 332 F. 3d 323, 332–333 (CA5 2003). If petitioners offer no evidence on remand that Dow erred in the testing, design, or manufacture of Strongarm, these claims will fail on the merits. On that point, I take the majority to agree. Ante, at 9–10, n. 15.

We need go no further to resolve this case. The ordinary meaning of §136v(b)’s terms makes plain that some of petitioners’ state-law causes of action may be pre-empted. Yet the majority advances several arguments designed to tip the scales in favor of the States and against the Federal Government. These arguments, in addition to being unnecessary, are unpersuasive. For instance, the majority states that the presumption against pre-emption requires choosing the interpretation of §136v(b) that disfavors pre-emption. Ante , at 16–17. That presumption does not apply, however, when Congress has included within a statute an express pre-emption provision. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., supra, at 545–546 ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part); Nelson, Preemption, 86 Va. L. Rev. 225, 291–292, 298–303 (2000). Section 136v(b) is an explicit statement that FIFRA pre-empts some state-law claims. Thus, our task is to determine which state-law claims §136v(b) pre-empts, without slanting the inquiry in favor of either the Federal Government or the States.

The history of tort litigation against manufacturers is also irrelevant. Ante , at 17. We cannot know, without looking to the text of §136v(b), whether FIFRA preserved that tradition or displaced it. The majority notes that Congress must have intended to preserve common-law suits, because the legislative history does not indicate that Congress meant to abrogate such suits. Ante , at 19–20, n. 26; see also Small v. United States , ante , at __ ( Thomas, J. , dissenting) (criticizing novel practice of relying on silence in the legislative history); Koons Buick Pontiac GMC, Inc. v. Nigh , 543 U. S. ___, ___ (2004) (slip op., at 5) ( Scalia , J., dissenting) (same). For the Court, then, enacting a pre-emption provision is not enough: either Congress must speak with added specificity in the statute (to avoid the presumption against pre-emption) or some individual Members of Congress or congressional committees must display their preference for pre-emption in the legislative record (to avoid a new canon of congressional silence). But the Court does not believe its own test, for it agrees that §136v(b) stands to abrogate many common-law causes of action. On remand, for example, petitioners may be unable to pursue a traditional common-law suit under Texas’ law of fraud. Finally, while allowing additional state-law remedies likely aids in enforcing FIFRA’s misbranding requirements, ante , at 18, it is for Congress, not this Court, to strike a balance between state tort suits and federal regulation.

Because we need only determine the ordinary meaning of §136v(b), the majority rightly declines to address respondent’s argument that petitioners’ claims are subject to other types of pre-emption. Brief for Respondent 36–37. For instance, the majority does not ask whether FIFRA’s regulatory scheme is “so pervasive,” and the federal interest in labeling “so dominant,” that there is no room for States to provide additional remedies. Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U. S. 218, 230 (1947) . Nor does the majority ask whether enforcement of state-law labeling claims would “stan[d] as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress” in enacting FIFRA. Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U. S. 52, 67 (1941) .

Today’s decision thus comports with this Court’s increasing reluctance to expand federal statutes beyond their terms through doctrines of implied pre-emption. See Camps Newfound/Owatonna, Inc. v. Town of Harrison, 520 U. S. 564, 617 (1997) ( Thomas, J. , dissenting). This reluctance reflects that pre-emption analysis is not “[a] freewheeling judicial inquiry into whether a state statute is in tension with federal objectives,” Gade v. National Solid Wastes Management Assn., 505 U. S. 88, 111 (1992) ( Kennedy, J. , concurring in part and concurring in judgment), but an inquiry into whether the ordinary meanings of state and federal law conflict.


Notes

* * Petitioners’ counterclaim expressly disclaims that Dow violated any provision of FIFRA. App. 192 (First Amended Counterclaim).


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CDInPart

DENNIS BATES, et al. , PETITIONERS v. DOW
AGROSCIENCES LLC

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit


[April 27, 2005]

Justice Thomas , with whom Justice Scalia joins, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.

I agree with the Court that the term “requirements” in §24(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U. S. C. §136v(b), includes common-law duties for labeling or packaging. Ante , at 10. I also agree that state-law damages claims may not impose requirements “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s. Ante , at 19–21. While States are free to impose liability predicated on a violation of the federal standards set forth in FIFRA and in any accompanying regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, they may not impose liability for labeling requirements predicated on distinct state standards of care. Section 136v(b) permits States to add remedies—not to alter or augment the substantive rules governing liability for labeling. See Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U. S. 470, 513 (1996) ( O’Connor, J. , concurring in part and dissenting in part). Because the parties have not argued that Dow violated FIFRA’s labeling standards,* * the majority properly remands for the District Court to consider whether Texas law mirrors the federal standards.

However, the majority omits a step in its reasoning that should be made explicit: A state-law cause of action, even if not specific to labeling, nevertheless imposes a labeling requirement “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s when it attaches liability to statements on the label that do not produce liability under FIFRA. The state-law cause of action then adds some supplemental requirement of truthfulness to FIFRA’s requirement that labeling statements not be “false or misleading.” 7 U. S. C. §136(q)(1)(A). That is why the fraud claims here are properly remanded to determine whether the state and federal standards for liability-incurring statements are, in their application to this case, the same. See ante, at 20–21.

Under that reasoning, the majority mistreats two sets of petitioners’ claims. First, petitioners’ breach-of-warranty claims should be remanded for pre-emption analysis, contrary to the majority’s disposition, see ante , at 11–12. To the extent that Texas’ law of warranty imposes liability for statements on the label where FIFRA would not, Texas’ law is pre-empted. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U. S. 504, 551 (1992) ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). Second, the majority holds that petitioners’ claim under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) is not pre-empted to the extent it is a breach-of-warranty claim. Ante, at 12, n. 18. However, the DTPA claim is also (and, in fact, perhaps exclusively) a claim for false or misleading representations on the label. App. 185–186. Therefore, all aspects of the DTPA claim should be remanded. The DTPA claim, like petitioners’ fraud claims, should be pre-empted insofar as it imposes liability for label content where FIFRA would not.

I also note that, despite the majority’s reference to a failure-to-warn claim, ante, at 9–10, n. 15, petitioners have not advanced an actual failure-to-warn claim. Instead, the Court of Appeals treated petitioners’ claims for negligent testing and defective design and manufacture as “disguised claim[s] for failure to warn.” 332 F. 3d 323, 332–333 (CA5 2003). If petitioners offer no evidence on remand that Dow erred in the testing, design, or manufacture of Strongarm, these claims will fail on the merits. On that point, I take the majority to agree. Ante, at 9–10, n. 15.

We need go no further to resolve this case. The ordinary meaning of §136v(b)’s terms makes plain that some of petitioners’ state-law causes of action may be pre-empted. Yet the majority advances several arguments designed to tip the scales in favor of the States and against the Federal Government. These arguments, in addition to being unnecessary, are unpersuasive. For instance, the majority states that the presumption against pre-emption requires choosing the interpretation of §136v(b) that disfavors pre-emption. Ante , at 16–17. That presumption does not apply, however, when Congress has included within a statute an express pre-emption provision. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., supra, at 545–546 ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part); Nelson, Preemption, 86 Va. L. Rev. 225, 291–292, 298–303 (2000). Section 136v(b) is an explicit statement that FIFRA pre-empts some state-law claims. Thus, our task is to determine which state-law claims §136v(b) pre-empts, without slanting the inquiry in favor of either the Federal Government or the States.

The history of tort litigation against manufacturers is also irrelevant. Ante , at 17. We cannot know, without looking to the text of §136v(b), whether FIFRA preserved that tradition or displaced it. The majority notes that Congress must have intended to preserve common-law suits, because the legislative history does not indicate that Congress meant to abrogate such suits. Ante , at 19–20, n. 26; see also Small v. United States , ante , at __ ( Thomas, J. , dissenting) (criticizing novel practice of relying on silence in the legislative history); Koons Buick Pontiac GMC, Inc. v. Nigh , 543 U. S. ___, ___ (2004) (slip op., at 5) ( Scalia , J., dissenting) (same). For the Court, then, enacting a pre-emption provision is not enough: either Congress must speak with added specificity in the statute (to avoid the presumption against pre-emption) or some individual Members of Congress or congressional committees must display their preference for pre-emption in the legislative record (to avoid a new canon of congressional silence). But the Court does not believe its own test, for it agrees that §136v(b) stands to abrogate many common-law causes of action. On remand, for example, petitioners may be unable to pursue a traditional common-law suit under Texas’ law of fraud. Finally, while allowing additional state-law remedies likely aids in enforcing FIFRA’s misbranding requirements, ante , at 18, it is for Congress, not this Court, to strike a balance between state tort suits and federal regulation.

Because we need only determine the ordinary meaning of §136v(b), the majority rightly declines to address respondent’s argument that petitioners’ claims are subject to other types of pre-emption. Brief for Respondent 36–37. For instance, the majority does not ask whether FIFRA’s regulatory scheme is “so pervasive,” and the federal interest in labeling “so dominant,” that there is no room for States to provide additional remedies. Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U. S. 218, 230 (1947) . Nor does the majority ask whether enforcement of state-law labeling claims would “stan[d] as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress” in enacting FIFRA. Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U. S. 52, 67 (1941) .

Today’s decision thus comports with this Court’s increasing reluctance to expand federal statutes beyond their terms through doctrines of implied pre-emption. See Camps Newfound/Owatonna, Inc. v. Town of Harrison, 520 U. S. 564, 617 (1997) ( Thomas, J. , dissenting). This reluctance reflects that pre-emption analysis is not “[a] freewheeling judicial inquiry into whether a state statute is in tension with federal objectives,” Gade v. National Solid Wastes Management Assn., 505 U. S. 88, 111 (1992) ( Kennedy, J. , concurring in part and concurring in judgment), but an inquiry into whether the ordinary meanings of state and federal law conflict.


Notes

* * Petitioners’ counterclaim expressly disclaims that Dow violated any provision of FIFRA. App. 192 (First Amended Counterclaim).


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CDInPart

DENNIS BATES, et al. , PETITIONERS v. DOW
AGROSCIENCES LLC

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit


[April 27, 2005]

Justice Thomas , with whom Justice Scalia joins, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.

I agree with the Court that the term “requirements” in §24(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U. S. C. §136v(b), includes common-law duties for labeling or packaging. Ante , at 10. I also agree that state-law damages claims may not impose requirements “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s. Ante , at 19–21. While States are free to impose liability predicated on a violation of the federal standards set forth in FIFRA and in any accompanying regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, they may not impose liability for labeling requirements predicated on distinct state standards of care. Section 136v(b) permits States to add remedies—not to alter or augment the substantive rules governing liability for labeling. See Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U. S. 470, 513 (1996) ( O’Connor, J. , concurring in part and dissenting in part). Because the parties have not argued that Dow violated FIFRA’s labeling standards,* * the majority properly remands for the District Court to consider whether Texas law mirrors the federal standards.

However, the majority omits a step in its reasoning that should be made explicit: A state-law cause of action, even if not specific to labeling, nevertheless imposes a labeling requirement “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s when it attaches liability to statements on the label that do not produce liability under FIFRA. The state-law cause of action then adds some supplemental requirement of truthfulness to FIFRA’s requirement that labeling statements not be “false or misleading.” 7 U. S. C. §136(q)(1)(A). That is why the fraud claims here are properly remanded to determine whether the state and federal standards for liability-incurring statements are, in their application to this case, the same. See ante, at 20–21.

Under that reasoning, the majority mistreats two sets of petitioners’ claims. First, petitioners’ breach-of-warranty claims should be remanded for pre-emption analysis, contrary to the majority’s disposition, see ante , at 11–12. To the extent that Texas’ law of warranty imposes liability for statements on the label where FIFRA would not, Texas’ law is pre-empted. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U. S. 504, 551 (1992) ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). Second, the majority holds that petitioners’ claim under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) is not pre-empted to the extent it is a breach-of-warranty claim. Ante, at 12, n. 18. However, the DTPA claim is also (and, in fact, perhaps exclusively) a claim for false or misleading representations on the label. App. 185–186. Therefore, all aspects of the DTPA claim should be remanded. The DTPA claim, like petitioners’ fraud claims, should be pre-empted insofar as it imposes liability for label content where FIFRA would not.

I also note that, despite the majority’s reference to a failure-to-warn claim, ante, at 9–10, n. 15, petitioners have not advanced an actual failure-to-warn claim. Instead, the Court of Appeals treated petitioners’ claims for negligent testing and defective design and manufacture as “disguised claim[s] for failure to warn.” 332 F. 3d 323, 332–333 (CA5 2003). If petitioners offer no evidence on remand that Dow erred in the testing, design, or manufacture of Strongarm, these claims will fail on the merits. On that point, I take the majority to agree. Ante, at 9–10, n. 15.

We need go no further to resolve this case. The ordinary meaning of §136v(b)’s terms makes plain that some of petitioners’ state-law causes of action may be pre-empted. Yet the majority advances several arguments designed to tip the scales in favor of the States and against the Federal Government. These arguments, in addition to being unnecessary, are unpersuasive. For instance, the majority states that the presumption against pre-emption requires choosing the interpretation of §136v(b) that disfavors pre-emption. Ante , at 16–17. That presumption does not apply, however, when Congress has included within a statute an express pre-emption provision. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., supra, at 545–546 ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part); Nelson, Preemption, 86 Va. L. Rev. 225, 291–292, 298–303 (2000). Section 136v(b) is an explicit statement that FIFRA pre-empts some state-law claims. Thus, our task is to determine which state-law claims §136v(b) pre-empts, without slanting the inquiry in favor of either the Federal Government or the States.

The history of tort litigation against manufacturers is also irrelevant. Ante , at 17. We cannot know, without looking to the text of §136v(b), whether FIFRA preserved that tradition or displaced it. The majority notes that Congress must have intended to preserve common-law suits, because the legislative history does not indicate that Congress meant to abrogate such suits. Ante , at 19–20, n. 26; see also Small v. United States , ante , at __ ( Thomas, J. , dissenting) (criticizing novel practice of relying on silence in the legislative history); Koons Buick Pontiac GMC, Inc. v. Nigh , 543 U. S. ___, ___ (2004) (slip op., at 5) ( Scalia , J., dissenting) (same). For the Court, then, enacting a pre-emption provision is not enough: either Congress must speak with added specificity in the statute (to avoid the presumption against pre-emption) or some individual Members of Congress or congressional committees must display their preference for pre-emption in the legislative record (to avoid a new canon of congressional silence). But the Court does not believe its own test, for it agrees that §136v(b) stands to abrogate many common-law causes of action. On remand, for example, petitioners may be unable to pursue a traditional common-law suit under Texas’ law of fraud. Finally, while allowing additional state-law remedies likely aids in enforcing FIFRA’s misbranding requirements, ante , at 18, it is for Congress, not this Court, to strike a balance between state tort suits and federal regulation.

Because we need only determine the ordinary meaning of §136v(b), the majority rightly declines to address respondent’s argument that petitioners’ claims are subject to other types of pre-emption. Brief for Respondent 36–37. For instance, the majority does not ask whether FIFRA’s regulatory scheme is “so pervasive,” and the federal interest in labeling “so dominant,” that there is no room for States to provide additional remedies. Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U. S. 218, 230 (1947) . Nor does the majority ask whether enforcement of state-law labeling claims would “stan[d] as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress” in enacting FIFRA. Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U. S. 52, 67 (1941) .

Today’s decision thus comports with this Court’s increasing reluctance to expand federal statutes beyond their terms through doctrines of implied pre-emption. See Camps Newfound/Owatonna, Inc. v. Town of Harrison, 520 U. S. 564, 617 (1997) ( Thomas, J. , dissenting). This reluctance reflects that pre-emption analysis is not “[a] freewheeling judicial inquiry into whether a state statute is in tension with federal objectives,” Gade v. National Solid Wastes Management Assn., 505 U. S. 88, 111 (1992) ( Kennedy, J. , concurring in part and concurring in judgment), but an inquiry into whether the ordinary meanings of state and federal law conflict.


Notes

* * Petitioners’ counterclaim expressly disclaims that Dow violated any provision of FIFRA. App. 192 (First Amended Counterclaim).


TOP

CDInPart

DENNIS BATES, et al. , PETITIONERS v. DOW
AGROSCIENCES LLC

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit


[April 27, 2005]

Justice Thomas , with whom Justice Scalia joins, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.

I agree with the Court that the term “requirements” in §24(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U. S. C. §136v(b), includes common-law duties for labeling or packaging. Ante , at 10. I also agree that state-law damages claims may not impose requirements “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s. Ante , at 19–21. While States are free to impose liability predicated on a violation of the federal standards set forth in FIFRA and in any accompanying regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, they may not impose liability for labeling requirements predicated on distinct state standards of care. Section 136v(b) permits States to add remedies—not to alter or augment the substantive rules governing liability for labeling. See Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U. S. 470, 513 (1996) ( O’Connor, J. , concurring in part and dissenting in part). Because the parties have not argued that Dow violated FIFRA’s labeling standards,* * the majority properly remands for the District Court to consider whether Texas law mirrors the federal standards.

However, the majority omits a step in its reasoning that should be made explicit: A state-law cause of action, even if not specific to labeling, nevertheless imposes a labeling requirement “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s when it attaches liability to statements on the label that do not produce liability under FIFRA. The state-law cause of action then adds some supplemental requirement of truthfulness to FIFRA’s requirement that labeling statements not be “false or misleading.” 7 U. S. C. §136(q)(1)(A). That is why the fraud claims here are properly remanded to determine whether the state and federal standards for liability-incurring statements are, in their application to this case, the same. See ante, at 20–21.

Under that reasoning, the majority mistreats two sets of petitioners’ claims. First, petitioners’ breach-of-warranty claims should be remanded for pre-emption analysis, contrary to the majority’s disposition, see ante , at 11–12. To the extent that Texas’ law of warranty imposes liability for statements on the label where FIFRA would not, Texas’ law is pre-empted. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U. S. 504, 551 (1992) ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). Second, the majority holds that petitioners’ claim under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) is not pre-empted to the extent it is a breach-of-warranty claim. Ante, at 12, n. 18. However, the DTPA claim is also (and, in fact, perhaps exclusively) a claim for false or misleading representations on the label. App. 185–186. Therefore, all aspects of the DTPA claim should be remanded. The DTPA claim, like petitioners’ fraud claims, should be pre-empted insofar as it imposes liability for label content where FIFRA would not.

I also note that, despite the majority’s reference to a failure-to-warn claim, ante, at 9–10, n. 15, petitioners have not advanced an actual failure-to-warn claim. Instead, the Court of Appeals treated petitioners’ claims for negligent testing and defective design and manufacture as “disguised claim[s] for failure to warn.” 332 F. 3d 323, 332–333 (CA5 2003). If petitioners offer no evidence on remand that Dow erred in the testing, design, or manufacture of Strongarm, these claims will fail on the merits. On that point, I take the majority to agree. Ante, at 9–10, n. 15.

We need go no further to resolve this case. The ordinary meaning of §136v(b)’s terms makes plain that some of petitioners’ state-law causes of action may be pre-empted. Yet the majority advances several arguments designed to tip the scales in favor of the States and against the Federal Government. These arguments, in addition to being unnecessary, are unpersuasive. For instance, the majority states that the presumption against pre-emption requires choosing the interpretation of §136v(b) that disfavors pre-emption. Ante , at 16–17. That presumption does not apply, however, when Congress has included within a statute an express pre-emption provision. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., supra, at 545–546 ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part); Nelson, Preemption, 86 Va. L. Rev. 225, 291–292, 298–303 (2000). Section 136v(b) is an explicit statement that FIFRA pre-empts some state-law claims. Thus, our task is to determine which state-law claims §136v(b) pre-empts, without slanting the inquiry in favor of either the Federal Government or the States.

The history of tort litigation against manufacturers is also irrelevant. Ante , at 17. We cannot know, without looking to the text of §136v(b), whether FIFRA preserved that tradition or displaced it. The majority notes that Congress must have intended to preserve common-law suits, because the legislative history does not indicate that Congress meant to abrogate such suits. Ante , at 19–20, n. 26; see also Small v. United States , ante , at __ ( Thomas, J. , dissenting) (criticizing novel practice of relying on silence in the legislative history); Koons Buick Pontiac GMC, Inc. v. Nigh , 543 U. S. ___, ___ (2004) (slip op., at 5) ( Scalia , J., dissenting) (same). For the Court, then, enacting a pre-emption provision is not enough: either Congress must speak with added specificity in the statute (to avoid the presumption against pre-emption) or some individual Members of Congress or congressional committees must display their preference for pre-emption in the legislative record (to avoid a new canon of congressional silence). But the Court does not believe its own test, for it agrees that §136v(b) stands to abrogate many common-law causes of action. On remand, for example, petitioners may be unable to pursue a traditional common-law suit under Texas’ law of fraud. Finally, while allowing additional state-law remedies likely aids in enforcing FIFRA’s misbranding requirements, ante , at 18, it is for Congress, not this Court, to strike a balance between state tort suits and federal regulation.

Because we need only determine the ordinary meaning of §136v(b), the majority rightly declines to address respondent’s argument that petitioners’ claims are subject to other types of pre-emption. Brief for Respondent 36–37. For instance, the majority does not ask whether FIFRA’s regulatory scheme is “so pervasive,” and the federal interest in labeling “so dominant,” that there is no room for States to provide additional remedies. Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U. S. 218, 230 (1947) . Nor does the majority ask whether enforcement of state-law labeling claims would “stan[d] as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress” in enacting FIFRA. Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U. S. 52, 67 (1941) .

Today’s decision thus comports with this Court’s increasing reluctance to expand federal statutes beyond their terms through doctrines of implied pre-emption. See Camps Newfound/Owatonna, Inc. v. Town of Harrison, 520 U. S. 564, 617 (1997) ( Thomas, J. , dissenting). This reluctance reflects that pre-emption analysis is not “[a] freewheeling judicial inquiry into whether a state statute is in tension with federal objectives,” Gade v. National Solid Wastes Management Assn., 505 U. S. 88, 111 (1992) ( Kennedy, J. , concurring in part and concurring in judgment), but an inquiry into whether the ordinary meanings of state and federal law conflict.


Notes

* * Petitioners’ counterclaim expressly disclaims that Dow violated any provision of FIFRA. App. 192 (First Amended Counterclaim).


TOP

CDInPart

DENNIS BATES, et al. , PETITIONERS v. DOW
AGROSCIENCES LLC

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit


[April 27, 2005]

Justice Thomas , with whom Justice Scalia joins, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.

I agree with the Court that the term “requirements” in §24(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U. S. C. §136v(b), includes common-law duties for labeling or packaging. Ante , at 10. I also agree that state-law damages claims may not impose requirements “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s. Ante , at 19–21. While States are free to impose liability predicated on a violation of the federal standards set forth in FIFRA and in any accompanying regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, they may not impose liability for labeling requirements predicated on distinct state standards of care. Section 136v(b) permits States to add remedies—not to alter or augment the substantive rules governing liability for labeling. See Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U. S. 470, 513 (1996) ( O’Connor, J. , concurring in part and dissenting in part). Because the parties have not argued that Dow violated FIFRA’s labeling standards,* * the majority properly remands for the District Court to consider whether Texas law mirrors the federal standards.

However, the majority omits a step in its reasoning that should be made explicit: A state-law cause of action, even if not specific to labeling, nevertheless imposes a labeling requirement “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s when it attaches liability to statements on the label that do not produce liability under FIFRA. The state-law cause of action then adds some supplemental requirement of truthfulness to FIFRA’s requirement that labeling statements not be “false or misleading.” 7 U. S. C. §136(q)(1)(A). That is why the fraud claims here are properly remanded to determine whether the state and federal standards for liability-incurring statements are, in their application to this case, the same. See ante, at 20–21.

Under that reasoning, the majority mistreats two sets of petitioners’ claims. First, petitioners’ breach-of-warranty claims should be remanded for pre-emption analysis, contrary to the majority’s disposition, see ante , at 11–12. To the extent that Texas’ law of warranty imposes liability for statements on the label where FIFRA would not, Texas’ law is pre-empted. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U. S. 504, 551 (1992) ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). Second, the majority holds that petitioners’ claim under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) is not pre-empted to the extent it is a breach-of-warranty claim. Ante, at 12, n. 18. However, the DTPA claim is also (and, in fact, perhaps exclusively) a claim for false or misleading representations on the label. App. 185–186. Therefore, all aspects of the DTPA claim should be remanded. The DTPA claim, like petitioners’ fraud claims, should be pre-empted insofar as it imposes liability for label content where FIFRA would not.

I also note that, despite the majority’s reference to a failure-to-warn claim, ante, at 9–10, n. 15, petitioners have not advanced an actual failure-to-warn claim. Instead, the Court of Appeals treated petitioners’ claims for negligent testing and defective design and manufacture as “disguised claim[s] for failure to warn.” 332 F. 3d 323, 332–333 (CA5 2003). If petitioners offer no evidence on remand that Dow erred in the testing, design, or manufacture of Strongarm, these claims will fail on the merits. On that point, I take the majority to agree. Ante, at 9–10, n. 15.

We need go no further to resolve this case. The ordinary meaning of §136v(b)’s terms makes plain that some of petitioners’ state-law causes of action may be pre-empted. Yet the majority advances several arguments designed to tip the scales in favor of the States and against the Federal Government. These arguments, in addition to being unnecessary, are unpersuasive. For instance, the majority states that the presumption against pre-emption requires choosing the interpretation of §136v(b) that disfavors pre-emption. Ante , at 16–17. That presumption does not apply, however, when Congress has included within a statute an express pre-emption provision. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., supra, at 545–546 ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part); Nelson, Preemption, 86 Va. L. Rev. 225, 291–292, 298–303 (2000). Section 136v(b) is an explicit statement that FIFRA pre-empts some state-law claims. Thus, our task is to determine which state-law claims §136v(b) pre-empts, without slanting the inquiry in favor of either the Federal Government or the States.

The history of tort litigation against manufacturers is also irrelevant. Ante , at 17. We cannot know, without looking to the text of §136v(b), whether FIFRA preserved that tradition or displaced it. The majority notes that Congress must have intended to preserve common-law suits, because the legislative history does not indicate that Congress meant to abrogate such suits. Ante , at 19–20, n. 26; see also Small v. United States , ante , at __ ( Thomas, J. , dissenting) (criticizing novel practice of relying on silence in the legislative history); Koons Buick Pontiac GMC, Inc. v. Nigh , 543 U. S. ___, ___ (2004) (slip op., at 5) ( Scalia , J., dissenting) (same). For the Court, then, enacting a pre-emption provision is not enough: either Congress must speak with added specificity in the statute (to avoid the presumption against pre-emption) or some individual Members of Congress or congressional committees must display their preference for pre-emption in the legislative record (to avoid a new canon of congressional silence). But the Court does not believe its own test, for it agrees that §136v(b) stands to abrogate many common-law causes of action. On remand, for example, petitioners may be unable to pursue a traditional common-law suit under Texas’ law of fraud. Finally, while allowing additional state-law remedies likely aids in enforcing FIFRA’s misbranding requirements, ante , at 18, it is for Congress, not this Court, to strike a balance between state tort suits and federal regulation.

Because we need only determine the ordinary meaning of §136v(b), the majority rightly declines to address respondent’s argument that petitioners’ claims are subject to other types of pre-emption. Brief for Respondent 36–37. For instance, the majority does not ask whether FIFRA’s regulatory scheme is “so pervasive,” and the federal interest in labeling “so dominant,” that there is no room for States to provide additional remedies. Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U. S. 218, 230 (1947) . Nor does the majority ask whether enforcement of state-law labeling claims would “stan[d] as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress” in enacting FIFRA. Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U. S. 52, 67 (1941) .

Today’s decision thus comports with this Court’s increasing reluctance to expand federal statutes beyond their terms through doctrines of implied pre-emption. See Camps Newfound/Owatonna, Inc. v. Town of Harrison, 520 U. S. 564, 617 (1997) ( Thomas, J. , dissenting). This reluctance reflects that pre-emption analysis is not “[a] freewheeling judicial inquiry into whether a state statute is in tension with federal objectives,” Gade v. National Solid Wastes Management Assn., 505 U. S. 88, 111 (1992) ( Kennedy, J. , concurring in part and concurring in judgment), but an inquiry into whether the ordinary meanings of state and federal law conflict.


Notes

* * Petitioners’ counterclaim expressly disclaims that Dow violated any provision of FIFRA. App. 192 (First Amended Counterclaim).


TOP

CDInPart

DENNIS BATES, et al. , PETITIONERS v. DOW
AGROSCIENCES LLC

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit


[April 27, 2005]

Justice Thomas , with whom Justice Scalia joins, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.

I agree with the Court that the term “requirements” in §24(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U. S. C. §136v(b), includes common-law duties for labeling or packaging. Ante , at 10. I also agree that state-law damages claims may not impose requirements “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s. Ante , at 19–21. While States are free to impose liability predicated on a violation of the federal standards set forth in FIFRA and in any accompanying regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, they may not impose liability for labeling requirements predicated on distinct state standards of care. Section 136v(b) permits States to add remedies—not to alter or augment the substantive rules governing liability for labeling. See Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U. S. 470, 513 (1996) ( O’Connor, J. , concurring in part and dissenting in part). Because the parties have not argued that Dow violated FIFRA’s labeling standards,* * the majority properly remands for the District Court to consider whether Texas law mirrors the federal standards.

However, the majority omits a step in its reasoning that should be made explicit: A state-law cause of action, even if not specific to labeling, nevertheless imposes a labeling requirement “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s when it attaches liability to statements on the label that do not produce liability under FIFRA. The state-law cause of action then adds some supplemental requirement of truthfulness to FIFRA’s requirement that labeling statements not be “false or misleading.” 7 U. S. C. §136(q)(1)(A). That is why the fraud claims here are properly remanded to determine whether the state and federal standards for liability-incurring statements are, in their application to this case, the same. See ante, at 20–21.

Under that reasoning, the majority mistreats two sets of petitioners’ claims. First, petitioners’ breach-of-warranty claims should be remanded for pre-emption analysis, contrary to the majority’s disposition, see ante , at 11–12. To the extent that Texas’ law of warranty imposes liability for statements on the label where FIFRA would not, Texas’ law is pre-empted. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U. S. 504, 551 (1992) ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). Second, the majority holds that petitioners’ claim under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) is not pre-empted to the extent it is a breach-of-warranty claim. Ante, at 12, n. 18. However, the DTPA claim is also (and, in fact, perhaps exclusively) a claim for false or misleading representations on the label. App. 185–186. Therefore, all aspects of the DTPA claim should be remanded. The DTPA claim, like petitioners’ fraud claims, should be pre-empted insofar as it imposes liability for label content where FIFRA would not.

I also note that, despite the majority’s reference to a failure-to-warn claim, ante, at 9–10, n. 15, petitioners have not advanced an actual failure-to-warn claim. Instead, the Court of Appeals treated petitioners’ claims for negligent testing and defective design and manufacture as “disguised claim[s] for failure to warn.” 332 F. 3d 323, 332–333 (CA5 2003). If petitioners offer no evidence on remand that Dow erred in the testing, design, or manufacture of Strongarm, these claims will fail on the merits. On that point, I take the majority to agree. Ante, at 9–10, n. 15.

We need go no further to resolve this case. The ordinary meaning of §136v(b)’s terms makes plain that some of petitioners’ state-law causes of action may be pre-empted. Yet the majority advances several arguments designed to tip the scales in favor of the States and against the Federal Government. These arguments, in addition to being unnecessary, are unpersuasive. For instance, the majority states that the presumption against pre-emption requires choosing the interpretation of §136v(b) that disfavors pre-emption. Ante , at 16–17. That presumption does not apply, however, when Congress has included within a statute an express pre-emption provision. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., supra, at 545–546 ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part); Nelson, Preemption, 86 Va. L. Rev. 225, 291–292, 298–303 (2000). Section 136v(b) is an explicit statement that FIFRA pre-empts some state-law claims. Thus, our task is to determine which state-law claims §136v(b) pre-empts, without slanting the inquiry in favor of either the Federal Government or the States.

The history of tort litigation against manufacturers is also irrelevant. Ante , at 17. We cannot know, without looking to the text of §136v(b), whether FIFRA preserved that tradition or displaced it. The majority notes that Congress must have intended to preserve common-law suits, because the legislative history does not indicate that Congress meant to abrogate such suits. Ante , at 19–20, n. 26; see also Small v. United States , ante , at __ ( Thomas, J. , dissenting) (criticizing novel practice of relying on silence in the legislative history); Koons Buick Pontiac GMC, Inc. v. Nigh , 543 U. S. ___, ___ (2004) (slip op., at 5) ( Scalia , J., dissenting) (same). For the Court, then, enacting a pre-emption provision is not enough: either Congress must speak with added specificity in the statute (to avoid the presumption against pre-emption) or some individual Members of Congress or congressional committees must display their preference for pre-emption in the legislative record (to avoid a new canon of congressional silence). But the Court does not believe its own test, for it agrees that §136v(b) stands to abrogate many common-law causes of action. On remand, for example, petitioners may be unable to pursue a traditional common-law suit under Texas’ law of fraud. Finally, while allowing additional state-law remedies likely aids in enforcing FIFRA’s misbranding requirements, ante , at 18, it is for Congress, not this Court, to strike a balance between state tort suits and federal regulation.

Because we need only determine the ordinary meaning of §136v(b), the majority rightly declines to address respondent’s argument that petitioners’ claims are subject to other types of pre-emption. Brief for Respondent 36–37. For instance, the majority does not ask whether FIFRA’s regulatory scheme is “so pervasive,” and the federal interest in labeling “so dominant,” that there is no room for States to provide additional remedies. Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U. S. 218, 230 (1947) . Nor does the majority ask whether enforcement of state-law labeling claims would “stan[d] as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress” in enacting FIFRA. Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U. S. 52, 67 (1941) .

Today’s decision thus comports with this Court’s increasing reluctance to expand federal statutes beyond their terms through doctrines of implied pre-emption. See Camps Newfound/Owatonna, Inc. v. Town of Harrison, 520 U. S. 564, 617 (1997) ( Thomas, J. , dissenting). This reluctance reflects that pre-emption analysis is not “[a] freewheeling judicial inquiry into whether a state statute is in tension with federal objectives,” Gade v. National Solid Wastes Management Assn., 505 U. S. 88, 111 (1992) ( Kennedy, J. , concurring in part and concurring in judgment), but an inquiry into whether the ordinary meanings of state and federal law conflict.


Notes

* * Petitioners’ counterclaim expressly disclaims that Dow violated any provision of FIFRA. App. 192 (First Amended Counterclaim).


TOP

CDInPart

DENNIS BATES, et al. , PETITIONERS v. DOW
AGROSCIENCES LLC

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit


[April 27, 2005]

Justice Thomas , with whom Justice Scalia joins, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.

I agree with the Court that the term “requirements” in §24(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U. S. C. §136v(b), includes common-law duties for labeling or packaging. Ante , at 10. I also agree that state-law damages claims may not impose requirements “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s. Ante , at 19–21. While States are free to impose liability predicated on a violation of the federal standards set forth in FIFRA and in any accompanying regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, they may not impose liability for labeling requirements predicated on distinct state standards of care. Section 136v(b) permits States to add remedies—not to alter or augment the substantive rules governing liability for labeling. See Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U. S. 470, 513 (1996) ( O’Connor, J. , concurring in part and dissenting in part). Because the parties have not argued that Dow violated FIFRA’s labeling standards,* * the majority properly remands for the District Court to consider whether Texas law mirrors the federal standards.

However, the majority omits a step in its reasoning that should be made explicit: A state-law cause of action, even if not specific to labeling, nevertheless imposes a labeling requirement “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s when it attaches liability to statements on the label that do not produce liability under FIFRA. The state-law cause of action then adds some supplemental requirement of truthfulness to FIFRA’s requirement that labeling statements not be “false or misleading.” 7 U. S. C. §136(q)(1)(A). That is why the fraud claims here are properly remanded to determine whether the state and federal standards for liability-incurring statements are, in their application to this case, the same. See ante, at 20–21.

Under that reasoning, the majority mistreats two sets of petitioners’ claims. First, petitioners’ breach-of-warranty claims should be remanded for pre-emption analysis, contrary to the majority’s disposition, see ante , at 11–12. To the extent that Texas’ law of warranty imposes liability for statements on the label where FIFRA would not, Texas’ law is pre-empted. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U. S. 504, 551 (1992) ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). Second, the majority holds that petitioners’ claim under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) is not pre-empted to the extent it is a breach-of-warranty claim. Ante, at 12, n. 18. However, the DTPA claim is also (and, in fact, perhaps exclusively) a claim for false or misleading representations on the label. App. 185–186. Therefore, all aspects of the DTPA claim should be remanded. The DTPA claim, like petitioners’ fraud claims, should be pre-empted insofar as it imposes liability for label content where FIFRA would not.

I also note that, despite the majority’s reference to a failure-to-warn claim, ante, at 9–10, n. 15, petitioners have not advanced an actual failure-to-warn claim. Instead, the Court of Appeals treated petitioners’ claims for negligent testing and defective design and manufacture as “disguised claim[s] for failure to warn.” 332 F. 3d 323, 332–333 (CA5 2003). If petitioners offer no evidence on remand that Dow erred in the testing, design, or manufacture of Strongarm, these claims will fail on the merits. On that point, I take the majority to agree. Ante, at 9–10, n. 15.

We need go no further to resolve this case. The ordinary meaning of §136v(b)’s terms makes plain that some of petitioners’ state-law causes of action may be pre-empted. Yet the majority advances several arguments designed to tip the scales in favor of the States and against the Federal Government. These arguments, in addition to being unnecessary, are unpersuasive. For instance, the majority states that the presumption against pre-emption requires choosing the interpretation of §136v(b) that disfavors pre-emption. Ante , at 16–17. That presumption does not apply, however, when Congress has included within a statute an express pre-emption provision. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., supra, at 545–546 ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part); Nelson, Preemption, 86 Va. L. Rev. 225, 291–292, 298–303 (2000). Section 136v(b) is an explicit statement that FIFRA pre-empts some state-law claims. Thus, our task is to determine which state-law claims §136v(b) pre-empts, without slanting the inquiry in favor of either the Federal Government or the States.

The history of tort litigation against manufacturers is also irrelevant. Ante , at 17. We cannot know, without looking to the text of §136v(b), whether FIFRA preserved that tradition or displaced it. The majority notes that Congress must have intended to preserve common-law suits, because the legislative history does not indicate that Congress meant to abrogate such suits. Ante , at 19–20, n. 26; see also Small v. United States , ante , at __ ( Thomas, J. , dissenting) (criticizing novel practice of relying on silence in the legislative history); Koons Buick Pontiac GMC, Inc. v. Nigh , 543 U. S. ___, ___ (2004) (slip op., at 5) ( Scalia , J., dissenting) (same). For the Court, then, enacting a pre-emption provision is not enough: either Congress must speak with added specificity in the statute (to avoid the presumption against pre-emption) or some individual Members of Congress or congressional committees must display their preference for pre-emption in the legislative record (to avoid a new canon of congressional silence). But the Court does not believe its own test, for it agrees that §136v(b) stands to abrogate many common-law causes of action. On remand, for example, petitioners may be unable to pursue a traditional common-law suit under Texas’ law of fraud. Finally, while allowing additional state-law remedies likely aids in enforcing FIFRA’s misbranding requirements, ante , at 18, it is for Congress, not this Court, to strike a balance between state tort suits and federal regulation.

Because we need only determine the ordinary meaning of §136v(b), the majority rightly declines to address respondent’s argument that petitioners’ claims are subject to other types of pre-emption. Brief for Respondent 36–37. For instance, the majority does not ask whether FIFRA’s regulatory scheme is “so pervasive,” and the federal interest in labeling “so dominant,” that there is no room for States to provide additional remedies. Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U. S. 218, 230 (1947) . Nor does the majority ask whether enforcement of state-law labeling claims would “stan[d] as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress” in enacting FIFRA. Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U. S. 52, 67 (1941) .

Today’s decision thus comports with this Court’s increasing reluctance to expand federal statutes beyond their terms through doctrines of implied pre-emption. See Camps Newfound/Owatonna, Inc. v. Town of Harrison, 520 U. S. 564, 617 (1997) ( Thomas, J. , dissenting). This reluctance reflects that pre-emption analysis is not “[a] freewheeling judicial inquiry into whether a state statute is in tension with federal objectives,” Gade v. National Solid Wastes Management Assn., 505 U. S. 88, 111 (1992) ( Kennedy, J. , concurring in part and concurring in judgment), but an inquiry into whether the ordinary meanings of state and federal law conflict.


Notes

* * Petitioners’ counterclaim expressly disclaims that Dow violated any provision of FIFRA. App. 192 (First Amended Counterclaim).


TOP

CDInPart

DENNIS BATES, et al. , PETITIONERS v. DOW
AGROSCIENCES LLC

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit


[April 27, 2005]

Justice Thomas , with whom Justice Scalia joins, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.

I agree with the Court that the term “requirements” in §24(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U. S. C. §136v(b), includes common-law duties for labeling or packaging. Ante , at 10. I also agree that state-law damages claims may not impose requirements “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s. Ante , at 19–21. While States are free to impose liability predicated on a violation of the federal standards set forth in FIFRA and in any accompanying regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, they may not impose liability for labeling requirements predicated on distinct state standards of care. Section 136v(b) permits States to add remedies—not to alter or augment the substantive rules governing liability for labeling. See Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U. S. 470, 513 (1996) ( O’Connor, J. , concurring in part and dissenting in part). Because the parties have not argued that Dow violated FIFRA’s labeling standards,* * the majority properly remands for the District Court to consider whether Texas law mirrors the federal standards.

However, the majority omits a step in its reasoning that should be made explicit: A state-law cause of action, even if not specific to labeling, nevertheless imposes a labeling requirement “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s when it attaches liability to statements on the label that do not produce liability under FIFRA. The state-law cause of action then adds some supplemental requirement of truthfulness to FIFRA’s requirement that labeling statements not be “false or misleading.” 7 U. S. C. §136(q)(1)(A). That is why the fraud claims here are properly remanded to determine whether the state and federal standards for liability-incurring statements are, in their application to this case, the same. See ante, at 20–21.

Under that reasoning, the majority mistreats two sets of petitioners’ claims. First, petitioners’ breach-of-warranty claims should be remanded for pre-emption analysis, contrary to the majority’s disposition, see ante , at 11–12. To the extent that Texas’ law of warranty imposes liability for statements on the label where FIFRA would not, Texas’ law is pre-empted. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U. S. 504, 551 (1992) ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). Second, the majority holds that petitioners’ claim under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) is not pre-empted to the extent it is a breach-of-warranty claim. Ante, at 12, n. 18. However, the DTPA claim is also (and, in fact, perhaps exclusively) a claim for false or misleading representations on the label. App. 185–186. Therefore, all aspects of the DTPA claim should be remanded. The DTPA claim, like petitioners’ fraud claims, should be pre-empted insofar as it imposes liability for label content where FIFRA would not.

I also note that, despite the majority’s reference to a failure-to-warn claim, ante, at 9–10, n. 15, petitioners have not advanced an actual failure-to-warn claim. Instead, the Court of Appeals treated petitioners’ claims for negligent testing and defective design and manufacture as “disguised claim[s] for failure to warn.” 332 F. 3d 323, 332–333 (CA5 2003). If petitioners offer no evidence on remand that Dow erred in the testing, design, or manufacture of Strongarm, these claims will fail on the merits. On that point, I take the majority to agree. Ante, at 9–10, n. 15.

We need go no further to resolve this case. The ordinary meaning of §136v(b)’s terms makes plain that some of petitioners’ state-law causes of action may be pre-empted. Yet the majority advances several arguments designed to tip the scales in favor of the States and against the Federal Government. These arguments, in addition to being unnecessary, are unpersuasive. For instance, the majority states that the presumption against pre-emption requires choosing the interpretation of §136v(b) that disfavors pre-emption. Ante , at 16–17. That presumption does not apply, however, when Congress has included within a statute an express pre-emption provision. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., supra, at 545–546 ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part); Nelson, Preemption, 86 Va. L. Rev. 225, 291–292, 298–303 (2000). Section 136v(b) is an explicit statement that FIFRA pre-empts some state-law claims. Thus, our task is to determine which state-law claims §136v(b) pre-empts, without slanting the inquiry in favor of either the Federal Government or the States.

The history of tort litigation against manufacturers is also irrelevant. Ante , at 17. We cannot know, without looking to the text of §136v(b), whether FIFRA preserved that tradition or displaced it. The majority notes that Congress must have intended to preserve common-law suits, because the legislative history does not indicate that Congress meant to abrogate such suits. Ante , at 19–20, n. 26; see also Small v. United States , ante , at __ ( Thomas, J. , dissenting) (criticizing novel practice of relying on silence in the legislative history); Koons Buick Pontiac GMC, Inc. v. Nigh , 543 U. S. ___, ___ (2004) (slip op., at 5) ( Scalia , J., dissenting) (same). For the Court, then, enacting a pre-emption provision is not enough: either Congress must speak with added specificity in the statute (to avoid the presumption against pre-emption) or some individual Members of Congress or congressional committees must display their preference for pre-emption in the legislative record (to avoid a new canon of congressional silence). But the Court does not believe its own test, for it agrees that §136v(b) stands to abrogate many common-law causes of action. On remand, for example, petitioners may be unable to pursue a traditional common-law suit under Texas’ law of fraud. Finally, while allowing additional state-law remedies likely aids in enforcing FIFRA’s misbranding requirements, ante , at 18, it is for Congress, not this Court, to strike a balance between state tort suits and federal regulation.

Because we need only determine the ordinary meaning of §136v(b), the majority rightly declines to address respondent’s argument that petitioners’ claims are subject to other types of pre-emption. Brief for Respondent 36–37. For instance, the majority does not ask whether FIFRA’s regulatory scheme is “so pervasive,” and the federal interest in labeling “so dominant,” that there is no room for States to provide additional remedies. Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U. S. 218, 230 (1947) . Nor does the majority ask whether enforcement of state-law labeling claims would “stan[d] as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress” in enacting FIFRA. Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U. S. 52, 67 (1941) .

Today’s decision thus comports with this Court’s increasing reluctance to expand federal statutes beyond their terms through doctrines of implied pre-emption. See Camps Newfound/Owatonna, Inc. v. Town of Harrison, 520 U. S. 564, 617 (1997) ( Thomas, J. , dissenting). This reluctance reflects that pre-emption analysis is not “[a] freewheeling judicial inquiry into whether a state statute is in tension with federal objectives,” Gade v. National Solid Wastes Management Assn., 505 U. S. 88, 111 (1992) ( Kennedy, J. , concurring in part and concurring in judgment), but an inquiry into whether the ordinary meanings of state and federal law conflict.


Notes

* * Petitioners’ counterclaim expressly disclaims that Dow violated any provision of FIFRA. App. 192 (First Amended Counterclaim).


TOP

CDInPart

DENNIS BATES, et al. , PETITIONERS v. DOW
AGROSCIENCES LLC

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit


[April 27, 2005]

Justice Thomas , with whom Justice Scalia joins, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.

I agree with the Court that the term “requirements” in §24(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U. S. C. §136v(b), includes common-law duties for labeling or packaging. Ante , at 10. I also agree that state-law damages claims may not impose requirements “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s. Ante , at 19–21. While States are free to impose liability predicated on a violation of the federal standards set forth in FIFRA and in any accompanying regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, they may not impose liability for labeling requirements predicated on distinct state standards of care. Section 136v(b) permits States to add remedies—not to alter or augment the substantive rules governing liability for labeling. See Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U. S. 470, 513 (1996) ( O’Connor, J. , concurring in part and dissenting in part). Because the parties have not argued that Dow violated FIFRA’s labeling standards,* * the majority properly remands for the District Court to consider whether Texas law mirrors the federal standards.

However, the majority omits a step in its reasoning that should be made explicit: A state-law cause of action, even if not specific to labeling, nevertheless imposes a labeling requirement “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s when it attaches liability to statements on the label that do not produce liability under FIFRA. The state-law cause of action then adds some supplemental requirement of truthfulness to FIFRA’s requirement that labeling statements not be “false or misleading.” 7 U. S. C. §136(q)(1)(A). That is why the fraud claims here are properly remanded to determine whether the state and federal standards for liability-incurring statements are, in their application to this case, the same. See ante, at 20–21.

Under that reasoning, the majority mistreats two sets of petitioners’ claims. First, petitioners’ breach-of-warranty claims should be remanded for pre-emption analysis, contrary to the majority’s disposition, see ante , at 11–12. To the extent that Texas’ law of warranty imposes liability for statements on the label where FIFRA would not, Texas’ law is pre-empted. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U. S. 504, 551 (1992) ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). Second, the majority holds that petitioners’ claim under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) is not pre-empted to the extent it is a breach-of-warranty claim. Ante, at 12, n. 18. However, the DTPA claim is also (and, in fact, perhaps exclusively) a claim for false or misleading representations on the label. App. 185–186. Therefore, all aspects of the DTPA claim should be remanded. The DTPA claim, like petitioners’ fraud claims, should be pre-empted insofar as it imposes liability for label content where FIFRA would not.

I also note that, despite the majority’s reference to a failure-to-warn claim, ante, at 9–10, n. 15, petitioners have not advanced an actual failure-to-warn claim. Instead, the Court of Appeals treated petitioners’ claims for negligent testing and defective design and manufacture as “disguised claim[s] for failure to warn.” 332 F. 3d 323, 332–333 (CA5 2003). If petitioners offer no evidence on remand that Dow erred in the testing, design, or manufacture of Strongarm, these claims will fail on the merits. On that point, I take the majority to agree. Ante, at 9–10, n. 15.

We need go no further to resolve this case. The ordinary meaning of §136v(b)’s terms makes plain that some of petitioners’ state-law causes of action may be pre-empted. Yet the majority advances several arguments designed to tip the scales in favor of the States and against the Federal Government. These arguments, in addition to being unnecessary, are unpersuasive. For instance, the majority states that the presumption against pre-emption requires choosing the interpretation of §136v(b) that disfavors pre-emption. Ante , at 16–17. That presumption does not apply, however, when Congress has included within a statute an express pre-emption provision. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., supra, at 545–546 ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part); Nelson, Preemption, 86 Va. L. Rev. 225, 291–292, 298–303 (2000). Section 136v(b) is an explicit statement that FIFRA pre-empts some state-law claims. Thus, our task is to determine which state-law claims §136v(b) pre-empts, without slanting the inquiry in favor of either the Federal Government or the States.

The history of tort litigation against manufacturers is also irrelevant. Ante , at 17. We cannot know, without looking to the text of §136v(b), whether FIFRA preserved that tradition or displaced it. The majority notes that Congress must have intended to preserve common-law suits, because the legislative history does not indicate that Congress meant to abrogate such suits. Ante , at 19–20, n. 26; see also Small v. United States , ante , at __ ( Thomas, J. , dissenting) (criticizing novel practice of relying on silence in the legislative history); Koons Buick Pontiac GMC, Inc. v. Nigh , 543 U. S. ___, ___ (2004) (slip op., at 5) ( Scalia , J., dissenting) (same). For the Court, then, enacting a pre-emption provision is not enough: either Congress must speak with added specificity in the statute (to avoid the presumption against pre-emption) or some individual Members of Congress or congressional committees must display their preference for pre-emption in the legislative record (to avoid a new canon of congressional silence). But the Court does not believe its own test, for it agrees that §136v(b) stands to abrogate many common-law causes of action. On remand, for example, petitioners may be unable to pursue a traditional common-law suit under Texas’ law of fraud. Finally, while allowing additional state-law remedies likely aids in enforcing FIFRA’s misbranding requirements, ante , at 18, it is for Congress, not this Court, to strike a balance between state tort suits and federal regulation.

Because we need only determine the ordinary meaning of §136v(b), the majority rightly declines to address respondent’s argument that petitioners’ claims are subject to other types of pre-emption. Brief for Respondent 36–37. For instance, the majority does not ask whether FIFRA’s regulatory scheme is “so pervasive,” and the federal interest in labeling “so dominant,” that there is no room for States to provide additional remedies. Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U. S. 218, 230 (1947) . Nor does the majority ask whether enforcement of state-law labeling claims would “stan[d] as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress” in enacting FIFRA. Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U. S. 52, 67 (1941) .

Today’s decision thus comports with this Court’s increasing reluctance to expand federal statutes beyond their terms through doctrines of implied pre-emption. See Camps Newfound/Owatonna, Inc. v. Town of Harrison, 520 U. S. 564, 617 (1997) ( Thomas, J. , dissenting). This reluctance reflects that pre-emption analysis is not “[a] freewheeling judicial inquiry into whether a state statute is in tension with federal objectives,” Gade v. National Solid Wastes Management Assn., 505 U. S. 88, 111 (1992) ( Kennedy, J. , concurring in part and concurring in judgment), but an inquiry into whether the ordinary meanings of state and federal law conflict.


Notes

* * Petitioners’ counterclaim expressly disclaims that Dow violated any provision of FIFRA. App. 192 (First Amended Counterclaim).


TOP

CDInPart

DENNIS BATES, et al. , PETITIONERS v. DOW
AGROSCIENCES LLC

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit


[April 27, 2005]

Justice Thomas , with whom Justice Scalia joins, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.

I agree with the Court that the term “requirements” in §24(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U. S. C. §136v(b), includes common-law duties for labeling or packaging. Ante , at 10. I also agree that state-law damages claims may not impose requirements “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s. Ante , at 19–21. While States are free to impose liability predicated on a violation of the federal standards set forth in FIFRA and in any accompanying regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, they may not impose liability for labeling requirements predicated on distinct state standards of care. Section 136v(b) permits States to add remedies—not to alter or augment the substantive rules governing liability for labeling. See Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U. S. 470, 513 (1996) ( O’Connor, J. , concurring in part and dissenting in part). Because the parties have not argued that Dow violated FIFRA’s labeling standards,* * the majority properly remands for the District Court to consider whether Texas law mirrors the federal standards.

However, the majority omits a step in its reasoning that should be made explicit: A state-law cause of action, even if not specific to labeling, nevertheless imposes a labeling requirement “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s when it attaches liability to statements on the label that do not produce liability under FIFRA. The state-law cause of action then adds some supplemental requirement of truthfulness to FIFRA’s requirement that labeling statements not be “false or misleading.” 7 U. S. C. §136(q)(1)(A). That is why the fraud claims here are properly remanded to determine whether the state and federal standards for liability-incurring statements are, in their application to this case, the same. See ante, at 20–21.

Under that reasoning, the majority mistreats two sets of petitioners’ claims. First, petitioners’ breach-of-warranty claims should be remanded for pre-emption analysis, contrary to the majority’s disposition, see ante , at 11–12. To the extent that Texas’ law of warranty imposes liability for statements on the label where FIFRA would not, Texas’ law is pre-empted. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U. S. 504, 551 (1992) ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). Second, the majority holds that petitioners’ claim under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) is not pre-empted to the extent it is a breach-of-warranty claim. Ante, at 12, n. 18. However, the DTPA claim is also (and, in fact, perhaps exclusively) a claim for false or misleading representations on the label. App. 185–186. Therefore, all aspects of the DTPA claim should be remanded. The DTPA claim, like petitioners’ fraud claims, should be pre-empted insofar as it imposes liability for label content where FIFRA would not.

I also note that, despite the majority’s reference to a failure-to-warn claim, ante, at 9–10, n. 15, petitioners have not advanced an actual failure-to-warn claim. Instead, the Court of Appeals treated petitioners’ claims for negligent testing and defective design and manufacture as “disguised claim[s] for failure to warn.” 332 F. 3d 323, 332–333 (CA5 2003). If petitioners offer no evidence on remand that Dow erred in the testing, design, or manufacture of Strongarm, these claims will fail on the merits. On that point, I take the majority to agree. Ante, at 9–10, n. 15.

We need go no further to resolve this case. The ordinary meaning of §136v(b)’s terms makes plain that some of petitioners’ state-law causes of action may be pre-empted. Yet the majority advances several arguments designed to tip the scales in favor of the States and against the Federal Government. These arguments, in addition to being unnecessary, are unpersuasive. For instance, the majority states that the presumption against pre-emption requires choosing the interpretation of §136v(b) that disfavors pre-emption. Ante , at 16–17. That presumption does not apply, however, when Congress has included within a statute an express pre-emption provision. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., supra, at 545–546 ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part); Nelson, Preemption, 86 Va. L. Rev. 225, 291–292, 298–303 (2000). Section 136v(b) is an explicit statement that FIFRA pre-empts some state-law claims. Thus, our task is to determine which state-law claims §136v(b) pre-empts, without slanting the inquiry in favor of either the Federal Government or the States.

The history of tort litigation against manufacturers is also irrelevant. Ante , at 17. We cannot know, without looking to the text of §136v(b), whether FIFRA preserved that tradition or displaced it. The majority notes that Congress must have intended to preserve common-law suits, because the legislative history does not indicate that Congress meant to abrogate such suits. Ante , at 19–20, n. 26; see also Small v. United States , ante , at __ ( Thomas, J. , dissenting) (criticizing novel practice of relying on silence in the legislative history); Koons Buick Pontiac GMC, Inc. v. Nigh , 543 U. S. ___, ___ (2004) (slip op., at 5) ( Scalia , J., dissenting) (same). For the Court, then, enacting a pre-emption provision is not enough: either Congress must speak with added specificity in the statute (to avoid the presumption against pre-emption) or some individual Members of Congress or congressional committees must display their preference for pre-emption in the legislative record (to avoid a new canon of congressional silence). But the Court does not believe its own test, for it agrees that §136v(b) stands to abrogate many common-law causes of action. On remand, for example, petitioners may be unable to pursue a traditional common-law suit under Texas’ law of fraud. Finally, while allowing additional state-law remedies likely aids in enforcing FIFRA’s misbranding requirements, ante , at 18, it is for Congress, not this Court, to strike a balance between state tort suits and federal regulation.

Because we need only determine the ordinary meaning of §136v(b), the majority rightly declines to address respondent’s argument that petitioners’ claims are subject to other types of pre-emption. Brief for Respondent 36–37. For instance, the majority does not ask whether FIFRA’s regulatory scheme is “so pervasive,” and the federal interest in labeling “so dominant,” that there is no room for States to provide additional remedies. Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U. S. 218, 230 (1947) . Nor does the majority ask whether enforcement of state-law labeling claims would “stan[d] as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress” in enacting FIFRA. Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U. S. 52, 67 (1941) .

Today’s decision thus comports with this Court’s increasing reluctance to expand federal statutes beyond their terms through doctrines of implied pre-emption. See Camps Newfound/Owatonna, Inc. v. Town of Harrison, 520 U. S. 564, 617 (1997) ( Thomas, J. , dissenting). This reluctance reflects that pre-emption analysis is not “[a] freewheeling judicial inquiry into whether a state statute is in tension with federal objectives,” Gade v. National Solid Wastes Management Assn., 505 U. S. 88, 111 (1992) ( Kennedy, J. , concurring in part and concurring in judgment), but an inquiry into whether the ordinary meanings of state and federal law conflict.


Notes

* * Petitioners’ counterclaim expressly disclaims that Dow violated any provision of FIFRA. App. 192 (First Amended Counterclaim).


TOP

CDInPart

DENNIS BATES, et al. , PETITIONERS v. DOW
AGROSCIENCES LLC

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit


[April 27, 2005]

Justice Thomas , with whom Justice Scalia joins, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.

I agree with the Court that the term “requirements” in §24(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U. S. C. §136v(b), includes common-law duties for labeling or packaging. Ante , at 10. I also agree that state-law damages claims may not impose requirements “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s. Ante , at 19–21. While States are free to impose liability predicated on a violation of the federal standards set forth in FIFRA and in any accompanying regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, they may not impose liability for labeling requirements predicated on distinct state standards of care. Section 136v(b) permits States to add remedies—not to alter or augment the substantive rules governing liability for labeling. See Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U. S. 470, 513 (1996) ( O’Connor, J. , concurring in part and dissenting in part). Because the parties have not argued that Dow violated FIFRA’s labeling standards,* * the majority properly remands for the District Court to consider whether Texas law mirrors the federal standards.

However, the majority omits a step in its reasoning that should be made explicit: A state-law cause of action, even if not specific to labeling, nevertheless imposes a labeling requirement “in addition to or different from” FIFRA’s when it attaches liability to statements on the label that do not produce liability under FIFRA. The state-law cause of action then adds some supplemental requirement of truthfulness to FIFRA’s requirement that labeling statements not be “false or misleading.” 7 U. S. C. §136(q)(1)(A). That is why the fraud claims here are properly remanded to determine whether the state and federal standards for liability-incurring statements are, in their application to this case, the same. See ante, at 20–21.

Under that reasoning, the majority mistreats two sets of petitioners’ claims. First, petitioners’ breach-of-warranty claims should be remanded for pre-emption analysis, contrary to the majority’s disposition, see ante , at 11–12. To the extent that Texas’ law of warranty imposes liability for statements on the label where FIFRA would not, Texas’ law is pre-empted. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U. S. 504, 551 (1992) ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). Second, the majority holds that petitioners’ claim under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) is not pre-empted to the extent it is a breach-of-warranty claim. Ante, at 12, n. 18. However, the DTPA claim is also (and, in fact, perhaps exclusively) a claim for false or misleading representations on the label. App. 185–186. Therefore, all aspects of the DTPA claim should be remanded. The DTPA claim, like petitioners’ fraud claims, should be pre-empted insofar as it imposes liability for label content where FIFRA would not.

I also note that, despite the majority’s reference to a failure-to-warn claim, ante, at 9–10, n. 15, petitioners have not advanced an actual failure-to-warn claim. Instead, the Court of Appeals treated petitioners’ claims for negligent testing and defective design and manufacture as “disguised claim[s] for failure to warn.” 332 F. 3d 323, 332–333 (CA5 2003). If petitioners offer no evidence on remand that Dow erred in the testing, design, or manufacture of Strongarm, these claims will fail on the merits. On that point, I take the majority to agree. Ante, at 9–10, n. 15.

We need go no further to resolve this case. The ordinary meaning of §136v(b)’s terms makes plain that some of petitioners’ state-law causes of action may be pre-empted. Yet the majority advances several arguments designed to tip the scales in favor of the States and against the Federal Government. These arguments, in addition to being unnecessary, are unpersuasive. For instance, the majority states that the presumption against pre-emption requires choosing the interpretation of §136v(b) that disfavors pre-emption. Ante , at 16–17. That presumption does not apply, however, when Congress has included within a statute an express pre-emption provision. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., supra, at 545–546 ( Scalia, J. , concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part); Nelson, Preemption, 86 Va. L. Rev. 225, 291–292, 298–303 (2000). Section 136v(b) is an explicit statement that FIFRA pre-empts some state-law claims. Thus, our task is to determine which state-law claims §136v(b) pre-empts, without slanting the inquiry in favor of either the Federal Government or the States.

The history of tort litigation against manufacturers is also irrelevant. Ante , at 17. We cannot know, without looking to the text of §136v(b), whether FIFRA preserved that tradition or displaced it. The majority notes that Congress must have intended to preserve common-law suits, because the legislative history does not indicate that Congress meant to abrogate such suits. Ante , at 19–20, n. 26; see also Small v. United States , ante , at __ ( Thomas, J. , dissenting) (criticizing novel practice of relying on silence in the legislative history); Koons Buick Pontiac GMC, Inc. v. Nigh , 543 U. S. ___, ___ (2004) (slip op., at 5) ( Scalia , J., dissenting) (same). For the Court, then, enacting a pre-emption provision is not enough: either Congress must speak with added specificity in the statute (to avoid the presumption against pre-emption) or some individual Members of Congress or congressional committees must display their preference for pre-emption in the legislative record (to avoid a new canon of congressional silence). But the Court does not believe its own test, for it agrees that §136v(b) stands to abrogate many common-law causes of action. On remand, for example, petitioners may be unable to pursue a traditional common-law suit under Texas’ law of fraud. Finally, while allowing additional state-law remedies likely aids in enforcing FIFRA’s misbranding requirements, ante , at 18, it is for Congress, not this Court, to strike a balance between state tort suits and federal regulation.

Because we need only determine the ordinary meaning of §136v(b), the majority rightly declines to address respondent’s argument that petitioners’ claims are subject to other types of pre-emption. Brief for Respondent 36–37. For instance, the majority does not ask whether FIFRA’s regulatory scheme is “so pervasive,” and the federal interest in labeling “so dominant,” that there is no room for States to provide additional remedies. Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U. S. 218, 230 (1947) . Nor does the majority ask whether enforcement of state-law labeling claims would “stan[d] as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress” in enacting FIFRA. Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U. S. 52, 67 (1941) .

Today’s decision thus comports with this Court’s increasing reluctance to expand federal statutes beyond their terms through doctrines of implied pre-emption. See Camps Newfound/Owatonna, Inc. v. Town of Harrison, 520 U. S. 564, 617 (1997) ( Thomas, J. , dissenting). This reluctance reflects that pre-emption analysis is not “[a] freewheeling judicial inquiry into whether a state statute is in tension with federal objectives,” Gade v. National Solid Wastes Management Assn., 505 U. S. 88, 111 (1992) ( Kennedy, J. , concurring in part and concurring in judgment), but an inquiry into whether the ordinary meanings of state and federal law conflict.


Notes

* * Petitioners’ counterclaim expressly disclaims that Dow violated any provision of FIFRA. App. 192 (First Amended Counterclaim).