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‘Fear-of-cancer’ claim requires instructions, Court says

The U.S. Supreme Court says a jury needs court guidance when asked to award pain-and-suffering damages for a FELA plaintiff worried about getting cancer from asbestos exposure.

The Court, in a 7-to-2 decision, remanded a Tennessee case where the judge had rejected instructions that would have required the plaintiff, who suffered from asbestosis, to show that his fear of lung cancer was “genuine and serious.”

“Although plaintiffs can seek fear-of-cancer damages in some FELA cases, they must satisfy a high standard in order to obtain them.  Refusing defendants’ requests to instruct the jury as to that high standard would render it all but meaningless,” wrote the Court in a per curiam opinion released yesterday.

The case is CSX Trans. Inc. v. Hensley.

By Peter Vieth

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