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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

FELA Plaintiffs Must Prove A Genuine and Serious Fear of Cancer

In a win for defendants in general and some asbestos defendants in particular, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a June 1, 2009 per curiam opinion holding that when FELA claimants pursue “fear of cancer” claims, the defendant is entitled to an instruction that the jury must find evidence that the fear is “genuine and serious.” The opinion is titled CSX Transp., Inc. v. Hensley, 556 U.S. _______ (2009). The slip opinion is here. The issue arose because a plaintiff said to have suffered other severe diseases also claimed damages for alleged fear of cancer due to having been diagnosed as having asbestosis.

The win is significant for railroads and others because FELA applies nationally since it is a federal statute. Click here for a Wikipedia article on the history of FELA.

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