Supreme Court reinstates class in Missouri lead-emission suit

Legal News Line Mar. 20, 2007, 10:34am

Justice Richard Teitelman

JEFFERSON CITY -- The Missouri Supreme Court has reversed a lower-court decision and reinstated a group of children as a class in a pollution lawsuit. In reinstating the 200-some children as a class in the case of Lani Meyer vs. Fluor Corp. (no. SC87771) the Supreme Court, in a split decision, ruled that the circuit court overstepped the mark in originally denying the children class status. Meyer filed a class action suit on behalf of the children in the Missouri town of Herculaneum against Fluor and other groups that operate a lead smelter in the town. She alleges four "theories of liability" and seeks compensatory damages to pay for medical monitoring for possible lead poisoning in the children. The St. Louis Circuit Court, in initially denying class certification, found that individual health issues in the case predominated over common issues. The Supreme Court ruled the lower court "misapplied the law by applying personal injury concepts to plaintiff's medical monitoring claim and in holding that these individual personal injury issues were predominate over common issues," wrote Justice Richard Teitelman. But Justice William Ray Price dissented from the majority opinion that the class should be reinstated, although he concurred with the majority's reason to do so. Price was joined in dissent by Justice Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr. Instead, Price stated that Meyer's medical situation differs from that of other class members. "Because the claims of the proposed representative plaintiff are not typical of the class, [class] certification is not proper," Price wrote. The re-certified class-action lawsuit has now been remanded.

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