SW Legal studies in Business

Alabama Rule Changed to Allow Right of Action to Begin at Time Disease Recognized

Alabama high court changed the two-year statute of limitations to begin to run at the time an injury attributed to exposure to toxic chemicals is diagnosed, rather than begin to run at the date of the last exposure to the substances.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Injury; Manifestation; Exposure; Cause of Action

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

From 1973 to 1993, Griffin worked at a tire-making plant. During his employment he was exposed to various toxic chemicals produced by several companies. In 2003 Griffin was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia; he died in 2004. His wife then sued the companies that made the chemicals Griffin had been exposed to, asserting that they were the cause of his fatal illness. The suit was dismissed as time barred because Alabama law required suit to be brought within two years of the date of the last exposure to harmful substances. Griffin’s widow appealed.


Reversed and remanded. The old rule is discarded in favor of a new rule. Personal injury actions based on exposure to hazardous chemicals will now accrue when the injury is manifested, not from the date of last exposure. Hence, Griffin or his widow would have two years from the time his disease was diagnosed in 2003, rather than his last exposure in 1993. Hence, Griffin’s suit may proceed as it was filed within two years of his diagnosis.


Griffin v. Unocal Corp., ---So.2d--- (2008 WL 204445, Sup. Ct., Ala., 2008)

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