If the doctor puts a bad pace maker in your chest, and it causes problems such that you need additional medical care, you have the right to sue the pace maker company for damages, right?

Sorry – this is a trick question. The Medical Device Amendments (federal law) prohibits (or preempts) state tort claims against medical devices that the FDA approved through the pre-market approval process. I know what you are thinking, the same FDA that approved Heparin that killed 89 people. The same FDA that can’t get to China to check on drug manufacturing there. The same FDA that has missed mad cow disease and spinach ecoli in the US. YUP. So we should feel very confident in any device they approve…

Sadly, this year, the Supreme Court (all but 1 Justice) held that a man could not sue Medtronic because of this federal preemption. Sounds like bad news to me. If you think such an erosion of your rights is unacceptable, let your Senators and Congressmen and Women know. After all, most of our rights exist after someone has fought hard for them!

Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at