Court of Appeals medical monitoring decision

This week, New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, delivered a victory for business in Caronia v. Philip Morris USA, Inc.  The Business Council of New York State, Inc. had joined with other business groups in filing an amicus brief urging the court to reject “medical monitoring” class actions under state law.

In one of the most important product-liability cases this year, in a 4-2 decision, the court rejected the attempt to make businesses pay for the costs of medical check-ups before the plaintiffs prove they have been injured.  If allowed, many companies, across a broad section of industries, would have faced lawsuits based on injuries that could have developed someday, probably leading the company to economic distress through frivolous lawsuits.

The Court of Appeals’ decision adopted the arguments presented in the amicus brief, saying New York law requires proof of harm.  The court said it would not deviate from well-established law to allow the pursuit of claims that showed no harm.

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