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Reeser v. NGK North American, Inc.

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20091
Nos. No. 3275 , (Pa. Super. Ct., 01/24/2011)

A Pennsylvania appellate court held that an independent contractor hired to test emissions at a beryllium plant had no legal duty to warn third parties about the health risks stemming from those emissions. To be held liable under §324A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, the consultant must have expressly undertaken a duty to protect the public before it can be held to have performed that duty negligently. The consultant undertook no such duty here. Although the contractor should have realized that it had an obligation to protect the community, the court's ruling that the contractor must have undertaken a duty to protect the community to be held liable for breach of that duty is consistent with the view held by many other jurisdictions. To hold otherwise would require that an independent consultant, hired to conduct testing and report the results to an owner of a facility, must report the results to the public if there is a need for remedial relief. Such a rule would inhibit owners of such a facility from hiring qualified, independent consultants to learn whether a dangerous condition exists, thereby impeding discovery and corrective action.