The Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill have been a disaster for BP. Now the cleanup effort has spawned a new set of legal problems. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports two Louisiana men have filed a class action lawsuit against BP and several other companies seeking medical monitoring costs. The men were exposed to hazardous substances while working the oil spill cleanup. They say the contractor they worked for gave them faulty respirators that did not protect them from the chemicals.

  • Cleanup workers exposed to hazardous chemicals
  • Costs to monitor for the onset of future disease
  • Class action for medical monitoring presents additional issues
Medical Monitoring Claims Remain Controversial

A court may award medical monitoring costs if a plaintiff can prove an increased risk of developing a disease or other injury in the future. The possibility of future harm must be related to the accident or exposure caused by the defendant. Plaintiffs recently have sought such costs in product liability actions and in the 9/11 cleanup litigation.

Controversy surrounds claims for medical monitoring costs. Medical monitoring costs are awarded to people who show no present harm but fear they might get sick in the future. This goes against the general legal requirement of proving a present injury to receive compensation. Seeking these costs for many people in a class action presents many complicated questions.

Oil spills aren’t new, but there’s not a lot of research on their effect on humans. About 6,700 cleanup workers claimed illness from The Exxon Valdez spill. Look for more similar lawsuits to come against BP from cleanup workers. Regulatory action also could follow from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. The government does suspend health and safety regulations simply because a disaster presents an emergency.

By: Arthur Buono, Laywers.com

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