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Jeffers v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

ELR Citation: 30 ELR 20376
Nos. No. Civ. A. 3:99-0274, 84 F. Supp. 2d 775/(S.D. W. Va., 02/08/2000)

The court holds that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) preempts an employee's state-law claims against her employer regarding the labeling of pesticides, but FIFRA does not preempt state-law claims regarding the packaging of the pesticides. The employee alleged that she suffered permanent injuries due to the inhalation of fumes and other exposure to pesticides as a result of her job. The court first holds that the employee's state-law claims based on the labeling of pesticides are preempted by FIFRA. It is now well-settled that FIFRA preempts state common-law negligence, warranty, and strict liability claims based on labeling issues. The court next holds, however, that the employee's state-law claims based on the packaging of the pesticides are not preempted by FIFRA. The plain text of FIFRA §136v preempts state-imposed requirements that are in addition to or different from those enacted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since no EPA regulations exist with regard to the subject matter of the employee's claims, her common-law causes of action are not in addition to or different from any EPA regulation. Additionally, Congress did not discuss complete preemption when it enacted FIFRA. Moreover, the structure and purpose of FIFRA combined with the absence of packaging approval procedures and regulations from EPA, indicate that FIFRA does not preempt the employee's packaging claims. Further, U.S. Supreme Court and federal case law support the conclusion that FIFRA does not preempt state-law packaging claims.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Stuart Calwell
Law Offices of Stuart Calwell
405 Capitol St., Ste. 607, Charleston WV 25321
(304) 343-4323

Counsel for Defendants
James McQueen Jr.
McQueen, Harmon & Potter
Geary Plaza
700 Washington St. E., Ste. 400, Charleston WV 25327
(304) 342-4200