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Pennsylvania Federal Court Dismisses Untimely Medical Monitoring Class Claim

In a decision that may make it more difficult to sustain medical monitoring claims in Pennsylvania, a federal district court dismissed as untimely a putative class action alleging workplace chemical exposure. Blanyar v. Genova Prods., Inc., No. 3:15-1303, 2016 WL 740941 (M.D. Pa. Feb. 25, 2016). Plaintiffs alleged that their employer unlawfully and fraudulently failed to inform or warn them about alleged occupational exposures to sixteen toxic chemicals, including vinyl chloride (“VC”) and polyvinyl chloride (“PVC”). Id. at *2-3.

Claims for medical monitoring in Pennsylvania have a two-year statute of limitations starting from the moment an individual was “placed at a significantly increased risk of contracting a serious latent disease.” Id. at *5 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Defendant’s plant closed in 2012 but Plaintiffs filed their complaint in 2015. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant’s fraudulent concealment tolled the statute of limitations.

Even accepting Plaintiffs’ claims as true, the Middle District of Pennsylvania concluded that Defendant’s alleged activity did not give rise to the “affirmative independent act of concealment” required to toll the statute of limitations: “Mere non-disclosure is not a misleading act for purposes of tolling the statute of limitations.” Id. at *6. The Court further noted that, by Plaintiffs’ own admission, the harmful effects of VC, PVC, and other chemicals obviously used at Defendant’s plant were “well-studied and well-documented” so as to place Plaintiffs on notice before the two-year limitations period expired. Id. The court therefore rejected Plaintiff’s tolling argument and granted a defense motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ medical monitoring claims without prejudice.

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About this Author

Anthony G. Papetti, Environmental Lawyer, Beveridge & Diamond Law Firm

Anthony Papetti maintains a general environmental litigation and regulatory practice, which has included  remediation matters under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund) and data compensation arbitration matters under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

Prior to law school, Anthony worked as a chemical analyst in the elemental analysis section of a global company that provides testing and inspection services for the petroleum, refining, and petrochemical industries....

Daniel M. Krainin, Environmental Attorney, Beveridge Diamond Law Firm

Daniel M. Krainin is a Principal in the New York office of Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.  He was named to the 2011 and 2012 Super Lawyers list for the New York Metropolitan area, holds an AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and serves as a Vice Chair of the ABA Environment Section's Environmental Litigation and Toxic Torts Committee.

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Eric Klein, environmental attorney, Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.

Eric L. Klein is an environmental civil litigator and regulatory counselor in the Washington, D.C. office of Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.  He has handled cases in state and federal courts throughout the United States, litigating a variety of complex civil and commercial matters before juries, trial and appellate courts, arbitrators and administrative tribunals.  Mr. Klein frequently litigates both statutory and common law claims, and specializes in challenging and defending technical experts in the litigation of complex environmental torts.

Graham C. Zorn, Environmental Law Attorney, Beveridge Diamond Law Firm

Graham C. Zorn is an Associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., with a general litigation, regulatory, and environmental practice.  Graham has represented individual businesses, trade associations, and municipalities in compliance, enforcement, and counseling matters involving the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, CERCLA and other state and federal statutes.  He has worked extensively on a series of complex products liability and toxic tort cases related to alleged groundwater contamination involving a gasoline additive.  Graham has also counseled domestic...