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Jackson v. General Motors Corp.

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20105
Nos. No. 08 Civ. 10879 (PAC), (S.D.N.Y., 02/16/2011)

A district court held that the CAA preempts a city transit employee's negligence and strict liability claims against a company for injuries stemming from diesel exhaust fumes. The employees alleged that the design of the company's buses violated the emissions standards set out in the CAA and that the company negligently failed to warn them about the latent dangers of the exhaust fumes emitted by the buses. The employees did not bring their claims under the CAA. Rather, they used the CAA to establish a standard with which they allege the company did not comply. State common law tort claims, however, are clearly subject to preemption under CAA §209(a), and here, the employee's claims "relate to" the control of emissions. Enforcement actions that have any "connection with or reference to" the control of emissions from motor vehicles are preempted by §209(a). The employees' negligence claims regarding the company's compliance with CAA emissions standards fit squarely within this category. And because warnings and instructions regarding emissions are obviously "related to" the control of emissions and the promulgation of emissions standards, §209(a) preempts the employees' failure to warn claims as well. In any event, the employees failed to adequately plead that the company's alleged failure to warn was a proximate cause of their injuries.