South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Defendants Must Cover Cost of Lead Exposure Monitoring for Class Members
Description Missouri high court held that class certification of children constantly exposed to lead emissions from a smelter was justified. Further, members of the class have the right to have health monitoring paid by defendant operators of the smelter since lead is known to be toxic.
Topic Torts
Key Words Latent Injury; Lead Exposure; Class Action; Medical Monitoring
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The Doe Run lead smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri, emits lead into the local environment. It is known that lead can have toxic effects, especially on children. However, problems may be latent for some years before a medical issue is diagnosed. Petitioners filed a class action request for children who live around Herculaneum, requesting that the smelter operators be required to pay for medical monitoring of members of the class, about 200 children. The trial court refused to certify the class. Plaintiffs appealed.

Reversed and remanded. In class certification decisions, courts should err in close cases in favor of certification because the class can be modified as the case progresses. A medical monitoring claim seeks to recover the costs of future reasonably necessary diagnostic testing to detect latent injuries or diseases that may develop as a result of exposure to toxic substances. Recovery for medical monitoring is reasonable since injury is reasonably certain to occur. Monitoring the issue will reduce the extent of possible future health problems. Plaintiffs have the right to have their health monitored due to exposure, so defendants should cover the cost. Plaintiff will also be entitled to full compensation for past or present injuries caused by actions of the smelter operator.

Citation Meyer v. Flour Corp., ---S.W.3d--- (2007 WL 827762, Sup. Ct., Mo., 2007)

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