Saturday, February 26, 2011

Comments on Williamson v Mazda

As expected the comments on the recent Supreme Court decisions keep coming. Here is an update: Amanda Rice, of the ScotUS blog, writes: Yesterday’s decision in Williamson v. Mazda Motor of America dominated coverage of the Court. In Williamson, the Court held that federal auto safety standards do not preempt state tort suits alleging that car manufacturers should have installed lap-and-shoulder belts on rear inner seats. The decision was unanimous. Justice Breyer wrote for the Court, Justice Sotomayor filed a concurring opinion, and Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. (Justice Kagan was recused.) The opinion is available here. David Savage of the Los Angeles Times describes the the decision as “a surprise outcome,” but he also notes that “[i]t is not clear whether [it] will open a door to many more successful suits against automakers.” Citing Tuesday’s decision in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth (which Adam covered in yesterday’s round-up, and which is discussed further below), the Washington Post’s Robert Barnes points out that the decision in Williamson was “the Court’s second [preemption] case in two days,” and he suggests that “[t]he contrasting decisions show the difficulty in predicting the Court’s jurisprudence in this area and underscore the importance of the specifics of each case. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, SCOTUSblog, the Associated Press, the ABA Journal, Bloomberg, Courthouse News Service, Reuters, JURIST,and The Note blog for ABC News also have coverage of the decision. In addition here is a link to an article in the Wall Street Journal law blog. Kali Borkoski, of the ScotUS law blog, again, adds the latest: At the close of a busy week, the decision in Williamson v. Mazda Motors of America, which Amanda covered yesterday, is still generating discussion. Writing for the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Ashby Jones has coverage of the decision, while Annie Decker – writing for ACSblog – considers how the decision in Williamson is distinguishable from the Court’s 2000 decision in another automobile preemption case, Geier v. American Honda Motor Co. Debra Cassens Weiss at the ABA Journal and Elizabeth Wydra at the Constitutional Accountability Center have also written about Williamson, with a focus in particular on Justice Thomas’s concurring opinion. UPDATE (2/28): Automaker Product Liability Lawsuit Over Seat Belts Can Proceed: Court (from

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