Logourl black

Merrell Dow Pharmaceutical v. Thompson

United States Supreme Court
478 U.S. 804 (1986)


Facts

The Thompsons (defendant), residents of Canada, and the MacTavishes, residents of Scotland, filed separate complaints against Merrell Dow Pharmaceutical (Merrell Dow) (plaintiff) in Ohio state court. The complaints alleged that, because the mothers took a Merrell Dow product called Bendectin during pregnancy, their children were born with multiple deformities. The complaints were founded on five counts of common law state theories and one count based on a violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), because the drug may have been misbranded and lacked the requisite warning on its label. There is no federal cause of action for violations of the FDCA. Merrell Dow filed a petition for removal from state court, arguing such removal was justified under §1331. Once removed, the Thompsons’ and MacTavishes’ actions were consolidated. The Thompsons filed a motion to remand to the state court, and the district court denied the motion, holding that the count in the complaint based on an alleged violation of the FDCA was a cause of action arising under federal law. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Issue

The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Holding and Reasoning (Stevens, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Dissent (Brennan, J.)

The dissent section is for members only and includes a summary of the dissenting judge or justice’s opinion. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Here's why 85,000 law students rely on our case briefs:

  • Reliable - written by law professors and practitioners not other law students.
  • The right length and amount of information - includes the facts, issue, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your class - works on your mobile and tablet.
  • 12,053 briefs - keyed to 161 casebooks.
  • Uniform format for every case brief.
  • Written in plain English - not in legalese and not just repeating the court's language.
  • Massive library of related video lessons - and practice questions.
  • Ability to tag case briefs in an outlining tool.
  • Top-notch customer support.
Start Your Free Trial Now