The US Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued an Advisory Opinion (“21-01”) Friday, reinforcing how the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (“PREP Act” or the “Act”) (1) provides complete preemptive federal jurisdiction and invites jurisdictional discovery; and (2) applies to cases where the alleged harm results from failure to use (and even refusal to use) a covered countermeasure when that failure arises out of the conscious allocation and prioritization of the countermeasures.
Advisory Opinion 21-01 expands on the language of the amended Declaration to clarify that the PREP Act provides complete preemptive federal jurisdiction for cases in which it is a defense. Once invoked, the PREP Act provides complete preemptive federal jurisdiction, and the federal court retains the case to decide whether the immunity and preemption provisions apply; if they do not apply, then the court would try the case as it would a diversity case.
Advisory Opinion 21-01 further clarifies that the PREP Act protections apply in cases where the complainant alleges harm from the defendant’s complete failure—or even refusal—to use covered countermeasures, particularly in those cases where such a failure arises from the conscious allocation of scarce resources among potential countermeasure recipients.
Source: New HHS Advisory Opinion Confirms Complete Federal Preemption for PREP Act Cases and Applicability of the Act’s Defenses in Non-Use Situations