In vacating a lower court certification of a class action, the West Virginia Supreme Court has tightened standards for medical monitoring in cases of exposure to high-risk chemicals.

The court decision is a step toward returning the class action mechanism to its intended function, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, which filed an amicus curiae in the case. "We applaud the decision of the West Virginia Supreme Court in Chemtall, Inc. v. Madden," said Robert Hurns, counsel and legislative database manager for PCI. "The high court, in effect, has determined that trial lawyers cannot impose West Virginia's medical monitoring standards upon other states that have not adopted them."

The case involves coal workers who claim to have been exposed to acrylamide while working in plants in West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia. The workers filed a class action lawsuit against various manufacturers, with the class including the workers' offspring, who, they argued, are at increased risk of developing genetic abnormalities and diseases.

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