Preemption of State Common Law by Federal Agency Action: Striking the Appropriate Balance that Protects Public Safety

After a brief review of the basics of preemption, this Article considers the public policy underlying preemption of common law claims by federal agency regulations. Next, the Article examines the recent development of preemption law, following two major United States Supreme Court decisions on preemption and President Barack Obama's instructions on preemption to heads of federal regulatory agencies. Finally, the Article notes that when the tension between federal regulations and state tort claims does not rise to the level of preemption, state law provides courts with discretion to consider the manufacturer's compliance as satisfying the common law standard of reasonable care and establishing that the product is not defective. The Article concludes by expressing concern that the recent rage against preemption in favor of litigation may lead to less safe products and place the public at risk.