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Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine

Docket No.: 01-706
Certiorari Granted: Jan 22 2002
Argued: October 15, 2002
Decided: December 3, 2002


46 U.S.C. 4301, Federalism, Federal Preemption of State Jurisdiction, Administrative Procedure, Article I, abuse of discretion, judicial review, pre-emption clause, preemption, willful violation

PartyNames: Sprietsma, Deceased v. Mercury Marine, a Division of Brunswick Corporation
Petitioner: Sprietsma, Deceased
Respondent: Mercury Marine, a Division of Brunswick Corporation

Court Below: Supreme Court of Illinois
Citation: Illinois Supreme Court, 757 N.E.2d 75. QUESTION PRESENTED This case involves the same issue raised by Lewis v. Brunswick Corp., No.97-288(October Tenn, 1997), cert. granted, 522 U.S. 978 (1997), cert. dismissed, 523 U.S. 1113 (1998): whether common law tort claims that a boat was defectivelydesigned because it lacked a propeller guard are preempted by federal law. In Lewis, the United States submitted an amicus curiae brief stating the federal government's view that such claims are not preempted. Lewis, however, settled after oral argument, before any decision wa s rendered. This case presents the firstmeaningful opportunity for the Court to consider this preemption issue since Lewis.
Supreme Court Docket

Sprietsma, Deceased
Mercury Marine, a Division of Brunswick Corporation
537 U.S. 51 (2002)
Question Presented:

Whether the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971, 46 U.S.C. §§ 4301-4311 (1988 & Supp. 199 3), preempts state common law claimsthat a recreational motor boat was defectively designed because it lacked a propeller guard when: (1) the Act expressl y provides that "[c]ompliance with thischapter or standards, regulations, or orde rs prescribed under this chapter does not relieve a person from liability at common law or under State law" (46 U.S.C. § 4311(g)); (2) the U.S. Coast Guard has never adopted any standard or regulation with respect to propeller guards; and (3) the United States has taken the position that common law no-propeller-guard claims do not conflict with or otherwisefrustrate any federal statutory or regulatory purpose? CERT. GRANTED: 1/22/02


Does the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971 preempt state common-law claims related to propeller safety?

Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine

October 15, 2002

Holding: reversed and remanded
Decision: Decision: 9 votes for Sprietsma, 0 vote(s) against

Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine
Case Documents

1Opinion in Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine
2Opinion in Sprietsma v. Mercury Marine
Additional documents for this case are pending review.