Petitioners are 29 Texas peanut farmers who allege that in the 2000 growing season their crops were severely damaged by the application of respondent's newly marketed pesticide named "Strongarm." The question presented is whether the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U.S.C. § 136 et seq. (2000 ed. and Supp. II), pre-empts their state-law claims for damages.
Pursuant to its authority under FIFRA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conditionally registered Strongarm on March 8, 2000, thereby granting respondent (Dow) permission to sell this pesticide — a weed killer
Meanwhile, Dow reregistered its Strongarm label with EPA prior to the 2001 growing season. EPA approved a "supplemental" label that was for "[d]istribution and [u]se [o]nly in the states of New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas," id., at 179, the three States in which peanut farmers experienced crop damage. This new label contained the following warning: "Do not apply Strongarm to soils with a pH of 7.2 or greater." Id., at 181.
After unsuccessful negotiations with Dow, petitioners gave Dow notice of their intent to bring suit as required by the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act
The Court of Appeals affirmed. It read § 136v(b) to pre-empt any state-law claim in which "a judgment against Dow would induce it to alter its product label." 332 F.3d 323, 331 (CA5 2003). The court held that because petitioners' fraud, warranty, and deceptive trade practices claims focused on oral statements by Dow's agents that did not differ from statements made on the product's label, success on those claims would give Dow a "strong incentive" to change its label. Those claims were thus pre-empted. Id., at 331-332. The court also found that petitioners' strict liability claim alleging defective design was essentially a "disguised" failure-to-warn claim and therefore pre-empted. Id., at 332. It reasoned: "One cannot escape the heart of the farmers' grievance: Strongarm is dangerous to peanut crops in soil with a pH level over 7.0, and that was not disclosed to them. . . . It is inescapable that success on this claim would again necessarily induce Dow to alter the Strongarm label." Id., at 332-333. The court employed similar reasoning to find the negligent testing and negligent manufacture claims pre-empted as well. Id., at 333.
This decision was consistent with those of a majority of the Courts of Appeals,
Prior to 1910 the States provided the primary and possibly the exclusive source of regulatory control over the distribution of poisonous substances. Both the Federal Government's first effort at regulation in this area, the Insecticide Act of 1910, 36 Stat. 331, and FIFRA as originally enacted in 1947, ch. 125, 61 Stat. 163, primarily dealt with licensing and labeling. Under the original version of FIFRA, all pesticides sold in interstate commerce had to be registered with the Secretary of Agriculture. The Secretary would register a pesticide if it complied with the statute's labeling standards and was determined to be efficacious and safe.
In 1972, spurred by growing environmental and safety concerns, Congress adopted the extensive amendments
Under FIFRA as it currently stands, a manufacturer seeking to register a pesticide must submit a proposed label to EPA as well as certain supporting data. 7 U.S.C. §§ 136a(c)(1)(C), (F). The agency will register the pesticide if it determines that the pesticide is efficacious (with the caveat discussed below), § 136a(c)(5)(A); that it will not cause unreasonable adverse effects on humans and the environment, §§ 136a(c)(5)(C), (D); § 136(bb); and that its label complies with the statute's prohibition on misbranding, § 136a(c)(5)(B); 40 CFR § 152.112(f) (2004). A pesticide is "misbranded" if its label contains a statement that is "false or misleading in any particular," including a false or misleading statement concerning the efficacy of the pesticide. 7 U.S.C. § 136(q)(1)(A); 40 CFR § 156.10(a)(5)(ii). A pesticide is also misbranded if its label does not contain adequate instructions for use, or if its label omits necessary warnings or cautionary statements. 7 U.S.C. §§ 136(q)(1)(F), (G).
Because it is unlawful under the statute to sell a pesticide that is registered but nevertheless misbranded, manufacturers have a continuing obligation to adhere to FIFRA's labeling requirements. § 136j(a)(1)(E); see also § 136a(f)(2) (registration is prima facie evidence that the pesticide and its labeling comply with the statute's requirements, but registration does not provide a defense to the violation of the statute); § 136a(f)(1) (a manufacturer may seek approval to
Section 136v, which was added in the 1972 amendments, addresses the States' continuing role in pesticide regulation. As currently codified, § 136v provides:
Although the modern version of FIFRA was enacted over three decades ago, this Court has never addressed whether that statute pre-empts tort and other common-law claims arising under state law. Courts entertained tort litigation against pesticide manufacturers since well before the passage
This Court has addressed FIFRA pre-emption in a different context. In Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier, 501 U.S. 597 (1991), we considered a claim that § 136v(b) pre-empted a small town's ordinance requiring a special permit for the aerial application of pesticides. Although the ordinance imposed restrictions not required by FIFRA or any EPA regulation, we unanimously rejected the pre-emption claim. In our opinion we noted that FIFRA was not "a sufficiently comprehensive statute to justify an inference that Congress had occupied the field to the exclusion of the
As a part of their supplementary role, States have ample authority to review pesticide labels to ensure that they comply with both federal and state labeling requirements.
Against this background, we consider whether petitioners' claims
The introductory words of § 136v(b) — "Such State" — appear to limit the coverage of that subsection to the States that are described in the preceding subsection (a). Texas is such a State because it regulates the sale and use of federally registered pesticides and does not permit any sales or uses prohibited by FIFRA. It is therefore beyond dispute that subsection (b) is applicable to this case.
The prohibitions in § 136v(b) apply only to "requirements." An occurrence that merely motivates an optional decision does not qualify as a requirement. The Court of Appeals was therefore quite wrong when it assumed that any event, such as a jury verdict, that might "induce" a pesticide manufacturer to change its label should be viewed as a requirement. The Court of Appeals did, however, correctly hold that the term "requirements" in § 136v(b) reaches beyond positive enactments, such as statutes and regulations, to embrace common-law duties. Our decision in Cipollone supports this conclusion. See 505 U.S., at 521 (plurality opinion) ("The phrase `[n]o requirement or prohibition' sweeps broadly and suggests no distinction between positive enactments and common law; to the contrary, those words easily encompass obligations that take the form of common-law rules"); see also id., at 548-549 (SCALIA, J., concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). While the use of "requirements" in a pre-emption clause may not invariably carry this meaning, we think this is the best reading of § 136v(b).
That § 136v(b) may pre-empt judge-made rules, as well as statutes and regulations, says nothing about the scope of that
It is perfectly clear that many of the common-law rules upon which petitioners rely do not satisfy the first condition. Rules that require manufacturers to design reasonably safe products, to use due care in conducting appropriate testing of their products, to market products free of manufacturing defects, and to honor their express warranties or other contractual commitments plainly do not qualify as requirements for "labeling or packaging." None of these common-law rules requires that manufacturers label or package their products in any particular way. Thus, petitioners' claims for defective design, defective manufacture, negligent testing, and breach of express warranty are not pre-empted.
To be sure, Dow's express warranty was located on Strongarm's label.
In arriving at a different conclusion, the court below reasoned that a finding of liability on these claims would "induce Dow to alter [its] label." 332 F. 3d, at 332.
The inducement test is unquestionably overbroad because it would impeach many "genuine" design defect claims that Dow concedes are not pre-empted. A design defect claim, if successful, would surely induce a manufacturer to alter its label to reflect a change in the list of ingredients or a change in the instructions for use necessitated by the improvement
Unlike their other claims, petitioners' fraud and negligent-failure-to-warn claims are premised on common-law rules that qualify as "requirements for labeling or packaging." These rules set a standard for a product's labeling that the Strongarm label is alleged to have violated by containing false statements and inadequate warnings. While the courts of appeals have rightly found guidance in Cipollone's interpretation of "requirements," some of those courts too quickly concluded that failure-to-warn claims were pre-empted under FIFRA, as they were in Cipollone, without paying attention to the rather obvious textual differences between the two pre-emption clauses.
The "parallel requirements" reading of § 136v(b) that we adopt today finds strong support in Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U.S. 470 (1996). In addressing a similarly worded pre-emption provision in a statute regulating medical devices, we found that "[n]othing in [21 U.S.C.] § 360k denies Florida the right to provide a traditional damages remedy for violations of common-law duties when those duties parallel federal requirements." Id., at 495.
Dow, joined by the United States as amicus curiae, argues that the "parallel requirements" reading of § 136v(b) would "give juries in 50 States the authority to give content to FIFRA's misbranding prohibition, establishing a crazy-quilt of anti-misbranding requirements different from the one defined by FIFRA itself and intended by Congress to be interpreted authoritatively by EPA." Brief for Respondent 16; see also Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 25-27. In our view, however, the clear text of § 136v(b) and the authority of Medtronic cannot be so easily avoided. Conspicuously absent from the submissions by Dow and the United States is any plausible alternative interpretation of "in addition to or different from" that would give that phrase meaning. Instead, they appear to favor reading those words out of the statute, which would leave the following: "Such State shall not impose or continue in effect any requirements for
Even if Dow had offered us a plausible alternative reading of § 136v(b) — indeed, even if its alternative were just as plausible as our reading of that text — we would nevertheless have a duty to accept the reading that disfavors pre-emption. "[B]ecause the States are independent sovereigns in our federal system, we have long presumed that Congress does not cavalierly pre-empt state-law causes of action." Medtronic, 518 U.S., at 485. In areas of traditional state regulation, we assume that a federal statute has not supplanted state law unless Congress has made such an intention "`clear and manifest.'" New York State Conference of Blue Cross & Blue Shield Plans v. Travelers Ins. Co., 514 U.S. 645, 655 (1995) (quoting Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U.S. 218, 230 (1947)); see also Medtronic, 518 U.S., at 485. Our reading is at once the only one that makes sense of each phrase in § 136v(b) and the one favored by our canons of interpretation. The notion that FIFRA contains a nonambiguous command to pre-empt the types of tort claims that parallel FIFRA's misbranding requirements is particularly dubious given that just five years ago the United States advocated the interpretation that we adopt today.
The long history of tort litigation against manufacturers of poisonous substances adds force to the basic presumption against pre-emption. If Congress had intended to deprive injured parties of a long available form of compensation, it surely would have expressed that intent more clearly. See
Finally, we find the policy objections raised against our reading of § 136v(b) to be unpersuasive. Dow and the United States greatly overstate the degree of uniformity and centralization that characterizes FIFRA. In fact, the statute authorizes a relatively decentralized scheme that preserves a broad role for state regulation. See id., at 613. Most significantly, States may ban or restrict the uses of pesticides that EPA has approved, § 136v(a); they may also register, subject to certain restrictions, pesticides for uses beyond those approved by EPA, § 136v(c). See also § 136w-1 (authorizing EPA to grant States primary enforcement responsibility for use violations). A literal reading of § 136v(b)
Private remedies that enforce federal misbranding requirements would seem to aid, rather than hinder, the functioning of FIFRA. Unlike the cigarette labeling law at issue in Cipollone, which prescribed certain immutable warning statements, FIFRA contemplates that pesticide labels will evolve over time, as manufacturers gain more information about their products' performance in diverse settings. As one court explained, tort suits can serve as a catalyst in this process:
Dow and the United States exaggerate the disruptive effects of using common-law suits to enforce the prohibition on misbranding. FIFRA has prohibited inaccurate representations and inadequate warnings since its enactment in 1947, while tort suits alleging failure-to-warn claims were common well before that date and continued beyond the 1972 amendments. We have been pointed to no evidence that such tort suits led to a "crazy-quilt" of FIFRA standards or otherwise
In sum, under our interpretation, § 136v(b) retains a narrow, but still important, role. In the main, it pre-empts competing state labeling standards — imagine 50 different labeling regimes prescribing the color, font size, and wording of warnings — that would create significant inefficiencies for manufacturers.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
JUSTICE BREYER, concurring.
I write separately to stress the practical importance of the Court's statement that state-law requirements must "be measured against" relevant Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations "that give content to [the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act's (FIFRA)] misbranding standards." Ante, at 453. In Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U.S. 470 (1996), I pointed out that an administrative agency, there the Food and Drug Administration, had the legal authority within ordinary administrative constraints to promulgate agency rules and to determine the pre-emptive effect of those rules in light of the agency's special understanding of "whether (or the extent to which) state requirements may interfere with federal objectives." Id., at 506 (opinion concurring in part and concurring in judgment). The EPA enjoys similar authority here. See 7 U.S.C.
JUSTICE THOMAS, with whom JUSTICE SCALIA joins, concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.
I agree with the Court that the term "requirements" in § 24(b) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U.S.C. § 136v(b), includes common-law duties for labeling or packaging. Ante, at 443. I also agree that state-law damages claims may not impose requirements "in addition to or different from" FIFRA's. Ante, at 452-454. While States are free to impose liability predicated on a violation of the federal standards set forth in FIFRA and in any accompanying regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, they may not impose liability for labeling requirements predicated on distinct state standards of care. Section 136v(b) permits States to add remedies — not to alter or augment the substantive rules governing liability for labeling. See Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U.S. 470,
However, the majority omits a step in its reasoning that should be made explicit: A state-law cause of action, even if not specific to labeling, nevertheless imposes a labeling requirement "in addition to or different from" FIFRA's when it attaches liability to statements on the label that do not produce liability under FIFRA. The state-law cause of action then adds some supplemental requirement of truthfulness to FIFRA's requirement that labeling statements not be "false or misleading." 7 U.S.C. § 136(q)(1)(A). That is why the fraud claims here are properly remanded to determine whether the state and federal standards for liability-incurring statements are, in their application to this case, the same. See ante, at 453-454.
Under that reasoning, the majority mistreats two sets of petitioners' claims. First, petitioners' breach-of-warranty claims should be remanded for pre-emption analysis, contrary to the majority's disposition, see ante, at 444-445. To the extent that Texas' law of warranty imposes liability for statements on the label where FIFRA would not, Texas' law is pre-empted. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U.S. 504, 551 (1992) (SCALIA, J., concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). Second, the majority holds that petitioners' claim under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) is not pre-empted to the extent it is a breach-of-warranty claim. Ante, at 445, n. 18. However, the DTPA claim is also (and, in fact, perhaps exclusively) a claim for false or misleading representations on the label. App. 185-186. Therefore, all aspects of the DTPA claim should be remanded. The DTPA claim,
I also note that, despite the majority's reference to a failure-to-warn claim, ante, at 442-443, n. 15, petitioners have not advanced an actual failure-to-warn claim. Instead, the Court of Appeals treated petitioners' claims for negligent testing and defective design and manufacture as "disguised claim[s] for failure to warn." 332 F.3d 323, 332-333 (CA5 2003). If petitioners offer no evidence on remand that Dow erred in the testing, design, or manufacture of Strongarm, these claims will fail on the merits. On that point, I take the majority to agree. Ante, at 442-443, n. 15.
We need go no further to resolve this case. The ordinary meaning of § 136v(b)'s terms makes plain that some of petitioners' state-law causes of action may be pre-empted. Yet the majority advances several arguments designed to tip the scales in favor of the States and against the Federal Government. These arguments, in addition to being unnecessary, are unpersuasive. For instance, the majority states that the presumption against pre-emption requires choosing the interpretation of § 136v(b) that disfavors pre-emption. Ante, at 449. That presumption does not apply, however, when Congress has included within a statute an express pre-emption provision. See Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., supra, at 545-546 (SCALIA, J., concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part); Nelson, Preemption, 86 Va. L. Rev. 225, 291-292, 298-303 (2000). Section 136v(b) is an explicit statement that FIFRA pre-empts some state-law claims. Thus, our task is to determine which state-law claims § 136v(b) pre-empts, without slanting the inquiry in favor of either the Federal Government or the States.
The history of tort litigation against manufacturers is also irrelevant. Ante, at 449-450. We cannot know, without looking to the text of § 136v(b), whether FIFRA preserved that tradition or displaced it. The majority notes that Congress
Because we need only determine the ordinary meaning of § 136v(b), the majority rightly declines to address respondent's argument that petitioners' claims are subject to other types of pre-emption. Brief for Respondent 36-37. For instance, the majority does not ask whether FIFRA's regulatory scheme is "so pervasive," and the federal interest in labeling "so dominant," that there is no room for States to provide additional remedies. Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U.S. 218, 230 (1947). Nor does the majority ask whether enforcement of state-law labeling claims would "stan[d] as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress" in enacting FIFRA. Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 67 (1941).
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the American Chemistry Council by Richard O. Faulk; for BASF Corp. by Bruce Jones; for the Chamber of Commerce of the United States by Alan Untereiner and Robin S. Conrad; for Croplife America et al. by Lawrence S. Ebner and Douglas T. Nelson; for E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and Co. et al. by Viet D. Dinh; for the Product Liability Advisory Council, Inc., by Kenneth S. Geller and Miriam R. Nemetz; for the Texas Chemical Council by William Powers, Jr., David M. Gunn, and Russell S. Post; for the Washington Legal Foundation by Daniel J. Popeo; and for Edwin L. Johnson by David E. Menotti.
James L. Moore, Glen Shu, Matthew W. Caligur, and Patrick Lysaught filed a brief for the Defense Research Institute as amicus curiae.