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New Jersey Chamber of Commerce v. Hughey

Citation: 19 ELR 20544
No. Nos. 88-5283, -5332, 868 F.2d 621/(3d Cir., 02/28/1989)

The court holds that the New Jersey Worker and Community Right-to-Know Act's container labeling provisions are generally not preempted by the Occupational Safety and Health Act's (OSH Act's) hazard communication standard. In a previous case, New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce v. Hughey, 15 ELR 21030, the court held that only limited portions of New Jersey's labeling provisions are expressly preempted. The court now holds that it is bound by its prior decision. Although the federal standard has been amended slightly since the court's earlier decision, the amendment has no effect on the prior holding. The court interprets its earlier decision to have held that New Jersey's container labeling law is expressly preempted only to the extent that it requires the labeling of workplace hazards in the manufacturing sector that are not also environmental hazards. The court also holds New Jersey's container labeling requirements are not impliedly preempted, since they do not constitute an obstacle to the accomplishment of the purposes of the federal standard. The district court's determination that workers would neither be confused nor overwhelmed by the addition of the New Jersey labels and that proper training and label formating could address such problems was not clearly erroneous. The need for modified training and labeling formats does not present an impermissible intrusion into the federal program, since the federal training and format requirements are phrased in flexible terms. In addition, the court's previous holding foreclosed the argument that the New Jersey requirements are preempted because the federal standard occupies the field.

Counsel for Appellants
John J. Carlin Jr., Martin G. Cronin
30 Vreeland Rd., P.O. Box 751, Florham Park NJ 07932
(201) 377-3350

Counsel for Appellees
Alfred A. Slocum, Richard E. Shapiro
Department of the Public Advocate, Division of Public Advocacy
Hughes Justice Complex, 25 Market St., CN 850, Trenton NJ 08625
(609) 292-1693

Michael S. Bokar, Senior Deputy Attorney General
Hughes Justice Complex, 25 Market St., CN 112, Trenton NJ 08625
(609) 292-4925

Before Higginbotham and Greenberg, JJ.