New York Court of Appeals

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Court rejects argument that businesses should pay for costs of medical check-ups before plaintiffs have any proof they have been injured

December 17, 2013

By a 4-2 decision, the court rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that businesses should pay for the costs of medical check-ups before the plaintiffs have any proof they have been injured.

U.S. Chamber urges New York Court of Appeals to reject “medical monitoring”class actions

October 04, 2013

The U.S. Chamber joined the Business Council of New York State and other groups to urge the New York Court of Appeals to reject a bid by the plaintiffs that asked the Court to to adopt an independent “medical monitoring”cause of action under New York law.

One of the most watched product liability cases of 2013, this “medical monitoring” class action presents New York’s highest court with a fundamental question: should individuals be allowed to sue companies before they show any kind of injury? In medical monitoring cases, the plaintiffs don’t have any illness or injury, but nonetheless ask courts to require defendants companies to pay for costly long-term medical monitoring because the plaintiffs fear that some day they may develop an injury or illness. The case is before the New York Court of Appeals on certification from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

As described in the coalition amicus brief, the overwhelming majority of state and federal courts have rejected “medical monitoring” claims, which stretch the boundaries of both science and law. Nonetheless, nearly every industry has been plagued by these class actions ever since they arose a few decades ago, including: airlines, medical device manufacturers, homebuilders, pharmaceutical companies, the military and defense contractors, railroad companies, mining companies, oil & gas companies, coal companies, agriculture companies, and chemical manufacturers – to name a few.

The amicus brief argues that New York tort law bars the “medical monitoring” causes of action, because New York law requires plaintiffs to prove a present injury. Moreover, the brief warns that authorizing medical monitoring claims based on “increased risk”of injury would massively expand potential liability in New York, with no real benefit to truly injured plaintiffs. Because the vast majority of jurisdictions to consider the issue have rejected medical monitoring, New York could become a magnet jurisdiction for such claims if New York's highest court sanctions them. The economic consequences for myriad New York industries could be devastating. Finally, the brief argues that the legislature, not the judiciary, should decide whether to introduce a new and controversial type of lawsuit. The legislature is best suited to resolve the policy decisions underlying medical monitoring.

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