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Merry v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp.

ELR Citation: 18 ELR 21218
Nos. No. 86-1673, 684 F. Supp. 847/27 ERC 1585/(M.D. Pa., 03/14/1988) Medical surveillance costs, emotional distress claims

The court rules that plaintiffs in a tort action for damages arising out of exposure to hazardous substances may recover medical surveillance costs in the absence of actual physical injury, and holds that plaintiff landowners whose wells were contaminated may obtain damages for emotional distress because they probably have suffered present physical effects from the contamination. The court rules that under Pensylvania law, plaintiffs seeking medical surveillance costs must prove exposure to a hazardous substance, the potential for injury, and the need for early detection and treatment. The court holds that plaintiffs' recovery in this case is not barred by their inability to quantify their risk of serious illness, since they may be able to show an unquantifiable but significantly enhanced risk. The court also holds that plaintiffs may be able to recover damages for emotional distress arising out of their exposure to hazardous substances. Plaintiffs probably have suffered present physical effects from their exposure, even if the effects are undetectable in some individuals.

[Other decisions in this litigation are published at 18 ELR 21215 and 21220.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Leslie M. Fields
Kollas, Costopoulos & Foster
P.O. 222, Lemoyne PA 17043
(717) 761-2121

Gerald J. Williams
Slap, Williams & Cuker
Suite 960, One Franklin Plaza, Philadelphia PA 19102
(215) 557-0099

Counsel for Defendant
Terry R. Bossert, Elizabeth A. Dougherty
McNees, Wallace & Nurick
100 Pine St., P.O. Box 1166, Harrisburg PA 17108
(717) 232-8000

Joseph M. Donley
McNees, Wallace & Nurick
421 Chestnut St., 5th Fl., Philadelphia PA 19106
(215) 829-9900