Companies in many industries face class action lawsuits by individuals who allegedly have been exposed to hazardous substances associated with the companies’ products. In many cases, plaintiffs allege that they have sustained injuries or developed illnesses as a result. But some plaintiffs sue before developing any injury or illness, based on simple exposure to a substance or product. These plaintiffs typically claim that they and others face an increased risk of developing an injury or illness in the future—and demand that the companies pay for “medical monitoring” programs to detect possible injuries and illnesses in the future.
Medical monitoring actions have been brought against companies involved in pharmaceutical manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, mining, energy production, tobacco and building materials. These actions are controversial and raise many questions about fundamental principles of tort law and how to weigh the costs and benefits of medical monitoring for groups of people who are not sick and may never become sick.
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