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Monday, October 07, 2002
No. 01-706 Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine


This case is about whether a decision by the Coast Guard not to require propeller guards on boats preempts a common law state claim that a boat manufacturer was negligent for construction of a boat without a propeller guard. The Supreme Court of Illinois found that the state-law claim was preempted, despite language in the Federal Boat Safety Act that purports to reserve all common law claims. I think that the Court will REVERSE the Supreme Court of Illinois. Congress expressed its intent not to preempt state common-law tort claims in the language of the act. I do not think the court will be sympathetic to the argument that the express intent of Congress is overruled by the negative regluatory decision of the Coast Guard.