Justifying its grant of certiorari by a split of authority, the Supreme Court could cite only one jurisdiction, Texas, that had rejected the FBSA preemption defense.
For example, the FBSA preempts any state law or regulation "establishing a recreational vessel or associated equipment performance or other safety standard.
For example, the first question presented in Sprietsma was whether the duty alleged in the tort claim was a "law or regulation" as those terms are used in the FBSA.
Of course, even discounting the Court's history, of erratic holdings on preemption, the ruling against preemption by the FBSA does not compel the same outcome for FIFRA: the language and structure of the two Acts are of course different.
In a unanimous opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Court held that the express preemption clause of the FBSA did not preempt the suit, and that the Coast Guard had not intended to preclude claims for damages involving specific products.
The FBSA contains an express preemption clause that applies to state and local regulation, which the Court interpreted as "most naturally read as not encompassing common law claims.