Every once in awhile, it pays to take a short detour into substantive law, which is what we're doing today with a consideration of Cohen v. McDonald's Corp. , No. 1-02-2110 (1st Dist. 2004).
In Cohen, plaintiff alleged in a class action that McDonald's violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act by, in part, failing to adhere to the National Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA). The First District affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the case on the basis of federal preemption.
The preemption doctrine provides that in some instances a federal law will override state laws on the same subject. The doctrine requires courts to examine the federal statute in question to determine whether Congress intended it to supplant state laws on the same subject.
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Federal statutes and regulations can preempt state law in the following circumstances: (1) the language of the statute or regulation expressly preempts state law; (2) Congress implemented a comprehensive regulatory scheme in a given area, removing the entire field from state law; or (3) state law as applied conflicts with federal law.
Cohen (citations omitted). The Court applied these principles to hold that the NLEA preempted the plaintiff's cause of action. "Essentially, [plaintiff] wants this court to fill holes in the NLEA where the federal government has yet to do so."