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.