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Grenier v. Vermont Log Bldgs., Inc.

ELR Citation: 27 ELR 20209
Nos. 95-2084, 96 F.3d 559/(1st Cir., 09/25/1996)

The court holds that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) preempts a home manufacturer's third-party contribution claims against manufacturers and distributors of a wood preservative that allegedly injured a person residing in one of the home manufacturer's homes. The home manufacturer asserts that its claims are based not on labeling and packaging, which are covered under FIFRA, but on design and manufacturing defects and failure to warn. The court first holds that FIFRA preempts state claims for failure to warn that are based on labeling. If the plaintiff wants to premise a failure to warn claim on a communication or failure to communicate by some other means, it is incumbent on the plaintiff to set forth a coherent specific claim, which the home manufacturer did not do in this case. The court next holds that FIFRA preempts claims resulting from any affirmative misstatement on the product's labeling. The court then holds that a claim of defective design or manufacturer is merely an attack on the failure to warn against residential use and therefore preempted. The court also rejects the home manufacturers indemnification claims. An indemnification claim in Massachusetts requires a showing of fault and the only allegations of fault that the home manufacturer makes are charges that are either inadequate because of federal preemption or are too general and wholly unsupported.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Carol A. Griffin
Morrison, Mahoney & Miller
250 Summer St., Boston MA 02210
(617) 439-7500

Counsel for Defendants
Roger D. Matthews
Madan & Madan
175 Federal St., Boston MA 02110
(617) 482-3700

Before TORRUELLA, Chief Judge, BOUDIN and STAHL, Circuit Judges.