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Cox v. Velsicol Chem. Corp.

Citation: 19 ELR 20936
No. No. 87-0775, 704 F. Supp. 85/(E.D. Pa., 02/02/1989)

The court holds that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) does not preempt state tort claims against pesticide manufacturers for failure to adequately warn about the risks associated with chlordane use. Plaintiffs allege the decedent developed lung cancer as a result of exposure to chlordane products manufactured by defendant, and charged the defendant with negligence and strict liability for failing to properly label the products with adequate warnings or instructions about the risks of use. The court holds that FIFRA does not preempt the entire field of pesticide labeling. Although the language of FIFRA seems to indicate that Congress intended to preempt state regulation of pesticide labeling, the statute also provides for a significant role by the manufacturer in labeling its products. Manufacturers of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved pesticides must submit their proposed labels for EPA approval, unlike other regulatory schemes that prescribe the exact language to be placed on labels. It is more likely that Congress intended FIFRA to set minimum standards for pesticide labeling. However, pesticide manufacturers do have an implied duty to provide labels that adequately warn and instruct users about the risks involved. The court holds that Congress did not expressly preempt state court claims or intend to occupy the field of pesticide labeling alone, and that state tort law does not conflict with FIFRA.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Lee B. Balefsky
Greitzer & Locks
1500 Walnut St., Philadelphia PA 19102
(215) 893-0100

Counsel for Defendant
Thomas J. Elliot
Baskin, Flaherty, Elliot & Mannino
Three Mellon Bank Ctr., 18th Fl., Philadelphia PA 19102
(215) 977-7400