Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Gates v. Rohm and Haas Co.

Aug 25: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, Case No. 10-2108. Appealed from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. This is an interlocutory appeal under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(f) from the denial of class certification for medical monitoring and property damage. Plaintiffs charge that chemical companies dumped an alleged carcinogen at an industrial complex near their residences. In denying the class certification, the District Court found individual issues predominated on exposure, causation, and the need for medical monitoring and also found individual issues predominated as to a liability-only issue class for the property damage claims.

    Plaintiffs seek certification of two classes: (1) a class seeking medical monitoring for village residents exposed to the airborne vinyl chloride between 1968 and 2002; and (2) a liability-only issue class seeking compensation for property damage from the exposure. At issue is whether the District Court erred in finding individual issues barred certification of the proposed trial classes under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(2) or 23(b)(3). The Appeals Court affirmed the district court decision.

    The Appeals Court explained further that, "Plaintiffs appear to rely on the same "common" evidence used for the medical monitoring class, but fail to explain how their estimates of exposure to residents over substantial periods of time corresponds to the level of contamination currently present at each home. It may prejudice absent class members whose properties may be shown to have suffered greater contamination. Given the inability to separate common issues from issues where individual characteristics may be determinative, the District Court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to certify a liability-only property damage class."

    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Toxics, #Remed, #CA3]


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