Are Negligent Claims Preempted by the Language of Federal Boat Safety Act’s Preemption Clause ?

In Carstensen v. Brunswick Corp., 49 F.3d 430 (8th Cir. 1995), the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals considered the preemptive scope of the Federal Boat Safety Act (FBSA) on facts similar to those before this court. There, the plaintiff was a boat passenger who sustained injury when she fell from the boat and was struck by the engine's propeller. Carstensen, 49 F.3d at 430.

She filed suit, alleging that the boat's manufacturer was negligent for having failed to install a propeller guard. Carstensen, 49 F.3d at 430.

The Eighth Circuit held that the plaintiff's claims were expressly preempted by the language of the FBSA's preemption clause, section 4306. Carstensen, 49 F.3d at 431.

That clause provides, in relevant part:

"a State may not establish, continue in effect, or enforce a law or regulation establishing a recreational vessel or associated equipment safety standard or imposing a requirement for such equipment that is not identical to a regulation prescribed Under section 4302 of this title." 46 U.S.C. § 4306.