Articles Posted in Federal Law

The contract clause of the United States Constitution restricts the power of states to disrupt contractual arrangements. It provides that “No state shall  pass any . . . law impairing the obligation of contracts.” U.S. Const., Art. I, ¶ 10, cl. 1.

This was a case about life insurance proceeds. It generated a single dissent in the U.S. Supreme Court about the Constitution’s contract clause, which prohibits states from enacting laws that impair the obligation of contracts.

Mark Sveen named his wife, Kaye Melin, as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy he purchased in 1998. A 2002 Minnesota statute automatically revoked the designation (as beneficiary) when the couple divorced in 2007. Sveen’s children from a prior marriage claimed the life insurance proceeds as contingent beneficiaries when he died in 2011.

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago filed a complaint against Global Marketing Enterprises Inc., Lifeline Nutrients Corp. and Pronto Foods alleging that they violated the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

This act regulates the production and sale of drugs and dietary supplements, including how they are prepared, packaged and labeled.

A settlement was reached on Aug. 3, 2018 against these three Chicago companies, which were accused of selling misbranded dietary supplements and unapproved and misbranded drugs.

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In 2011, the Texas Legislature adopted a new congressional districting plan and new district team maps for the two houses of the State Legislature to account for population growth shown in the 2010 census. In order to comply with the Equal Protection Clause, the Fourteenth Amendment forbids “racial gerrymandering,” that is, intentionally assigning citizens to a district on the basis of race without sufficient justification.  Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. 630, 641.

The Court stated that other legal requirements tend to require that state legislatures consider race in drawing districts. Like all states, Texas is subject to ¶2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), which is violated when a state districting plan provides “less opportunity for racial minorities “to elect representatives of their choice,” League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, 548 U.S. 399 (425).

At the time, Texas was also subject to ¶5, which barred it from making any districting changes unless it could prove that they did not result in retrogression with respect to the ability of racial minorities to elect the candidates of their choice. Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama, 575 U.S. ____, _____.

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This case was based on the distinction between brand name drugs and generics as decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in Wyeth v. Levine, 555 U.S. 555 (2009) and PLIVA v. Mensing, 564 U.S. 604 (2011).  The federal district court judge in Chicago, the Northern District of Illinois, dismissed failure-to-warn claims made against Pfizer, the manufacturer of Depo-T, a testosterone therapy that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified as a generic drug.

In the Wyeth case, it was ruled that federal law does not pre-empt state law claims based on allegations that the manufacturer of a brand name drug failed to provide an adequate warning label. When a drug manufacturing company that produces a brand name drug realizes its warning label is inadequate, it can invoke a changes-being-effected regulation to immediately provide beefed-up warnings without prior FDA approval.

But because federal law requires the manufacturer of generic drugs to use the warning label approved for the brand-named version, Mensing ruled that conflict-pre-emption bars claims that the manufacturer of the generic version failed to provide adequate warnings.

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When President Trump delivered his State of the Union speech before the joint session of Congress on Feb. 28, 2017, he falsely asserted that medical malpractice liability reform would greatly impact the costs of health insurance and pharmacy drug prices.

In response, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) made the following statement:

“There is no evidence that rigging the legal system to strip Americans of their rights to hold wrongdoers accountable will lower the cost of health insurance. In fact, studies have found that limiting consumer and patient rights may actually increase costs to patients.”

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The American Trucking Association is the largest trade association for the truck industry and is the lobbying arm of trucking businesses and companies. It is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry.

The American Trucking Association is pledging to seek passage of a new federal law when the Republicans control both the White House and Congress. This association has tried to block state laws that require additional rest breaks for truckers beyond what the federal rules require.

In other words, the American Truck Association is pushing hard to undo safety transportation regulations.

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