Federal Preemption. Following the national trend, the Supreme Court is considering three federal preemption cases. The first involves federal labor law preemption of a non-union contractor’s claims. (Midwest Pipe Insulation, Inc. v. MD Mechanical, Inc. argued Apr. 14, 2009) The second case involves preemption of a state statute imposing liability on motor vehicle owners for operation of a vehicle by another person with the owner’s consent as that statute relates to rental vehicle owners. (Meyer v. Nwokedi) The third preemption case is a condemnation action against two railroads where a city seeks an easement to build a recreational trail adjacent to track that is still in use. (City of Granite Falls v. Soo Line R.R. Co., et al.)

Releases From Liability. The Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments this fall in Dykes v. Sukup Manufacturing and review the law on when a release of one tortfeasor releases remaining tortfeasors. In the 1950s, the Court moved from a broad rule, that releasing one tortfeasor released all tortfeasors, to a narrow rule applied on a case-by-case basis: whether a release of one tortfeasor releases other tortfeasors depends on the intent of the parties and whether the injured person has received full compensation. Briggs and Morgan filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Minnesota Defense Lawyers Association.