Under S37, Vermonters who believe they have been exposed to environmental pollutants could recover medical monitoring costs from the alleged polluters. Plaintiffs wouldn’t need to prove actual harm - proving exposure would be enough. Supporters say it’s necessary to stop pollution like the PFOA crisis in Bennington. Opponents say the burden of proof should be higher and that businesses could leave Vermont. A federal judge recently decided in favor of supporters. Now VPIRG and legislators are gearing up to pass S37 and, if necessary, override the governor’s veto.
"People who sue typically need to show proof of harm to be awarded damages. Starting in the 1980s, some courts in the U.S. began awarding plaintiffs exposed to hazardous substances payment for diagnostic tests and other procedures for early detection of related diseases. Those cases are referred to as "medical monitoring" claims. To date, no court in Vermont had ruled on whether medical monitoring is allowed as a remedy. Crawford wrote that the choice between allowing or excluding medical monitoring comes down to the “competing values” of possible economic impacts on companies versus the “potential saving of lives which may be achieved through early detection and treatment.” Crawford said he will permit the Bennington plaintiffs to seek medical monitoring at trial because the PFOA contamination is similar to cases in other states in which a clearly defined class of exposed people have been awarded medical monitoring remedies.
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