Monday, November 11, 2013

Rainer v. Union Carbide Corporation case brief

Rainer v. Union Carbide Corporation case brief summary
402 F.3d 608 (6th Cir. 2005)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellant workers sued defendants, operators of a uranium-enrichment plant and a supplier of spent uranium fuel, alleging under the Price-Anderson Act (PAA) that defendants knowingly exposed the workers to radioactive substances without the workers' knowledge. The workers appealed the order of the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky at Paducah which granted summary judgment to defendants.

CASE FACTS

The workers contended that they were exposed to toxic transuranics at the plant, which defendants deliberately failed to disclose and which caused the workers to suffer subcellular damage to their DNA and chromosomes. Defendants argued that, with regard to workers actually employed by the operators, the Kentucky Workers' Compensation Act was the exclusive remedy, and that the workers displayed no clinical symptoms and thus did not suffer any bodily injury as required to support their claims under the PAA.

DISCUSSION

  • The appellate court first held that, in the absence of evidence that the operators had the specific intent to injure the workers who were employees, such workers' remedies were limited to those provided by the KWCA. 
  • Further, while the subcellular damage to the workers from the exposure to radiation was predictive of future disease, the workers lacked any present physical illness and the subcellular damage did not by itself constitute bodily injury sufficient to support the PAA claims. 
  • Also, the PAA provided adequate remedial mechanisms for alleged constitutional violations by defendants, and thus there was no basis for implying a separate federal constitutional remedy.

CONCLUSION

The order granting summary judgment to defendants was affirmed.

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