The New York Court of Appeals today said that New York law does not allow for an independent cause of action for medical monitoring. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit asked the state’s highest court to decide whether current or former long-term smokers who have no sign of disease can pursue an independent claim against a tobacco company to establish a medical monitoring program.
"We believe that the New York Court of Appeals correctly held that there is no basis under the law that supports creating a medical monitoring claim,” said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of Philip Morris USA. “In so ruling, the New York Court of Appeals has joined with many courts throughout the country in rejecting such a sweeping new cause of action.”
In its decision, the court said, “Allowance of such a claim, absent any evidence of present physical injury or damage to property, would constitute a significant deviation from our tort jurisprudence.”
In declining to create a new cause of action, the court expressed serious concerns about the “potential systemic effects of creating a new, full-blown tort law cause of action.” The court concluded that creating a medical monitoring cause of action could result in “effectively flooding the courts” and noted that “there is no framework concerning how such a medical monitoring program would be implemented and administered.”In 2011, a federal district court ruled that there was no legal basis for claims made by plaintiffs in Caronia requesting that the company pay for annual low-dose CT scans for long-term smokers to determine whether they have lung cancer. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit finding that plaintiffs' claims were legally invalid. This case is Caronia v. Philip Morris USA, Inc.