Friday, October 28, 2011
Contact Lens Solution False Ad Claims Preempted by Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
This posting was written by Jody Coultas, Editor of CCH State Unfair Trade Practices Law.
Class action claims that a contact lens solution manufacturer used misleading advertising in violation of the California Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and False Advertising Law (FAL) were preempted by the Medical Devices Amendments of 1976 (MDA), an amendment to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), according to the U.S. Court of Appeals of San Francisco.
The manufacturer advertised its contact lens disinfectant and cleaner as effective when in fact it caused many users to suffer infections, and the purchaser argued that the manufacturer knew its product was a poor disinfectant compared to other products. The solution was eventually recalled by the Food and Drug Administration.
A district court found that the purchaser lacked standing to bring the UCL and FAL claims because the purchaser and the class members never suffered an injury, were not forced to throw away unused solution by the recall, and did not lose money.
To have standing to bring a UCL claim, the purchaser needed to show an injury in fact and lost money as a result of the unfair competition.
Because class members paid money for a product based on advertising found to be false, the court held that they had standing to bring the claim. Class members would not have been willing to pay as much as they did for contact solution had they not been deceived by the advertising.
While the trial court erred in its finding of standing, the claims were nonetheless dismissed as federally preempted. The claims were preempted by the Medical Devices Amendments of 1976 (MDA) to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) because the UCL and FAL would impose a requirement that differed from the federal law.
State laws are preempted where a federal requirement was imposed on a device under the FDCA and the challenged state rule would impose a requirement that differed from, or added additional obligations to, the federal requirement. The application of California laws to this case would have imposed additional requirements separate from the federal requirements.
The decision is Degelmann v. Advanced Medical Optics Inc., CCH State Unfair Trade Practices Law ¶32,337.
Further details regarding CCH State Unfair Trade Practices Law appear here.