Saturday, July 8, 2023

E.I. DuPont deNemours & Co. v. Christopher Case Brief 431 F.2d 1012 (5th Cir. 1970)


In 1965, E.I. DuPont deNemours & Co. (DuPont) hired Mr. Christopher as a laborer at its plant in Texas. As part of his employment, Christopher was exposed to hazardous chemicals, including ethylene oxide, without being provided with proper protective equipment. Subsequently, Christopher developed cancer, which he alleged was caused by his exposure to the chemicals during his employment at DuPont.

Procedural History:

Christopher filed a lawsuit against DuPont in a federal district court, seeking damages for his injuries. The district court dismissed the case, granting DuPont's motion for summary judgment. Christopher appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.


Whether the district court erred in granting DuPont's motion for summary judgment, thereby dismissing Christopher's case, based on the theory that the statute of limitations had expired.


Under Texas law, a personal injury claim has a two-year statute of limitations period, which begins to run from the date the cause of action accrues. The accrual occurs when the injured party knows or, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have known of the facts giving rise to the claim.


The Court of Appeals reviewed the facts and legal arguments presented in the case. It considered whether Christopher's claim was time-barred under the statute of limitations.

The court noted that Christopher's cancer, allegedly caused by his exposure to hazardous chemicals, was a latent injury. It recognized that the statute of limitations for latent injuries begins to run when the plaintiff discovers, or should have discovered, the connection between the injury and the defendant's actions. The court concluded that Christopher's claim accrued when he became aware of both the injury and its cause, or when he should have reasonably discovered them.

DuPont argued that Christopher should have discovered the connection between his cancer and the chemical exposure prior to the two-year limitations period. DuPont claimed that Christopher should have reasonably known about the potential hazards of the chemicals and the link between his cancer and his employment at DuPont.

However, the court disagreed with DuPont's argument. It found that there were genuine issues of material fact regarding when Christopher became aware of his injury and its cause. It concluded that the issue of when the statute of limitations began to run was a question for the jury to decide based on the evidence presented at trial.


The Court of Appeals reversed the district court's decision to grant summary judgment in favor of DuPont. It held that the issue of when the statute of limitations began to run should be decided by the jury based on the factual circumstances surrounding Christopher's knowledge of his injury and its cause. The case was remanded back to the district court for further proceedings.

Note: This case brief provides a summary of the court's decision and does not include an analysis of the legal reasoning behind the judgment. For a more comprehensive understanding of the case, it is advisable to refer to the full text of the court's opinion.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Evolution of Legal Marketing: From Billboards to Digital Leads Over the last couple of decades, the face of legal marketing has changed a l...