Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status
From our private database of 15,400+ case briefs...

Merrell Dow Pharmaceutical v. Thompson

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


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


Holding and Reasoning (Stevens, J.)

Dissent (Brennan, J.)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 321,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 15,400 briefs, keyed to 210 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.