Those readers defending PMA medical device defendants should review Parker v. Stryker Corp., 2008 WL 4716879 (D. Colo. Oct. 22, 2008); the district court granted a preemption-based Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.

Plaintiff underwent a total hip arthroplasty during which she was implanted with the Trident Ceramic Acetabular System, an artificial hip implant device developed, manufactured, and sold by defendants. After the surgery, plaintiff claims she noticed an audible sound coming from the device. She alleges that she had experienced constant irritation and discomfort, as well as “additional and resultant bone loss,” and that she was at an increased risk for requiring a premature revision surgery. She sued under Colorado state law for failure to warn, manufacturing defect, design defect, breach of express and implied warranties, breach of implied warranty of fitness, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, and negligence. Defendants moved to dismiss, claiming that all of plaintiff’s state law causes of action were preempted.

Resolution of the motion turned in part on the recent Supreme Court decision interpreting the preemptive scope of the 1976 Medical Device Amendments (“MDA”), 21 U.S.C. §§ 360c-360n, to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 (“FDCA”), 21 U.S.C. §§ 301-399a, Reigel v. Medtronic, Inc., 128 S.Ct. 999 (2008). In that case, the Court concluded that state claims that would impose on manufacturers requirements that are different from, or in addition to, those prescribed by the MDA are preempted. Id. at 1011.

Plaintiff, however, insisted that her claims were not preempted because they did not seek to impose different or additional requirements, but only those parallel to the federal requirements of the MDA. The court here noted first that a “parallel” violation claim is not stated by reference to provisions of the FDCA that govern the sale of adulterated and misbranded devices, because there is no private right of action under the FDCA.

The district court found, second,  that although so-called parallel claims may be recognized, plaintiff had not properly pled them here. Conclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as factual conclusions will not suffice to prevent a motion to dismiss.  Fernandez-Montes v. Allied Pilots Association, 987 F.2d 278, 284 (5th Cir.1993); see also Ruiz v. McDonnell, 299 F.3d 1173, 1181 (10th Cir. 2002), cert. denied, 538 U.S. 999 (2003). Plaintiffs’ conclusory allegations standing alone were not sufficient to sustain plaintiff’s burden of pleading under Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1969, 1974 (2007). Specifically, under Twombly a plaintiff can’t state a claim simply by alleging that the defendant violated FDA regulations without alleging sufficient facts to back up the claim. And citing FDA warning letters is not sufficient to state a claim without some facts tying the letters to the plaintiff’s case.

The only claim not clearly preempted by Reigel was plaintiff’s breach of express warranty claim. Federal courts are divided as to whether breach of express warranty claims are preempted. The Third and Seventh Circuits have held that such claims are not preempted because any “requirements” imposed by the warranty are voluntarily assumed by the warrantor, not imposed by the state. See Mitchell v. Collagen Corp., 126 F.3d 902, 915 (7th Cir.1997), cert. denied, 523 U.S. 1020, (1998); Michael v. Shiley, Inc., 46 F.3d 1316, 1327-28 (3rd Cir.), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 815 (1995), overruled on other grounds as stated in In re Orthopedic Bone Screw Products Liability Litigation, 159 F.3d 817, 825 (3rd Cir.1998). See also In re Medtronic, Inc. Implantable Defibrillators Litigation, 465 F.Supp.2d 886, 898 (D.Min.2006); Davenport v. Medtronic, Inc., 302 F.Supp.2d 419, 433 (E.D.Pa.2004); Steele v. Depuy Orthopaedics, Inc., 295 F.Supp.2d 439, 455-56 (D.N.J.2003). Other courts have found this reasoning unpersuasive given the comprehensive nature of the PMA process. Because all representations regarding the device in its labeling must be approved by the FDA as part of the PMA process, these courts have held that any claim that such representations are inadequate is preempted. See Enlow v. St. Jude Medical, Inc., 210 F.Supp.2d 853, 861-62 (W.D.Ky.2001) (citing Martin v. Telectronics Pacing Systems, Inc., 105 F.3d 1090, 1100 (6th Cir.1997), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 1075 (1998)).

None of these cases was decided with the benefit of the Supreme Court’s decision in Reigel. In light of that decision, the district court decided that the better-reasoned approach would find plaintiff’s breach of express warranty claims based on the labeling of the Trident System preempted. The FDA evaluates labeling as part of the PMA process, it noted. Moreover, once approved, labels cannot be changed without FDA approval. Parker’s express warranty claim would contradict the FDA’s determination that the representations made on the label were adequate and appropriate and, thus, impose requirements different from or in addition to the federal requirements.