Blanyar v. Genova Prods. Inc., No. 16-1684

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtVANASKIE, Circuit Judge.
Citation861 F.3d 426
Parties Louise BLANYAR; Lawrence Buchman; Edward Yachera, Appellants v. GENOVA PRODUCTS INC.
Docket NumberNo. 16-1684
Decision Date30 June 2017

861 F.3d 426

Louise BLANYAR; Lawrence Buchman; Edward Yachera, Appellants
v.
GENOVA PRODUCTS INC.

No. 16-1684

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit.

Argued October 26, 2016
Opinion Filed: June 30, 2017


Sol H. Weiss, Esq. [ARGUED], Paola Pearson, Esq., David S. Senoff, Esq., ANAPOL WEISS, 130 North 18th Street, Suite 1600, Philadelphia, PA 19103, Counsel for Appellants

Justin P. Bagdady, Esq. [ARGUED], James J. Walsh, Esq., BODMAN PLC, 201 South Division Street, Suite 400, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, Fredrick J. Dindoffer, Esq., BODMAN PLC, 1901 St. Antoine Street, Sixth Floor at Ford Field, Detroit, MI 48226, J. Benjamin Nevius, Esq., Ronald L. Williams, Esq., FOX ROTHSCHILD LLP, 747 Constitution Drive, Suite 100, Exton, PA 19341, Counsel for Appellee

Before: FISHER,* VANASKIE, and KRAUSE, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

VANASKIE, Circuit Judge.

Appellants, former employees of Appellee Genova Products Inc. ("Genova"), challenge the District Court's decision to dismiss their putative class action for medical monitoring as barred by the applicable two year statute of limitations. While acknowledging that their exposure to the alleged toxic substances upon which they base their medical monitoring claims ended more than two years before commencing this litigation, Appellants contend that the limitations period should have been tolled by the discovery rule and should not have begun to run until they discovered the toxicity of the substances present in the Genova workplace, a discovery they claim was first made less than two years before this action was initiated. The District Court concluded that the discovery rule did not save Appellants' action because information concerning the dangers of the chemicals to which Appellants were exposed had been widely available for decades before they filed their complaint. For the reasons that follow, we will affirm the dismissal of Appellants' lawsuit.

861 F.3d 429

I.

Genova manufactures vinyl pipes and rain gutters. It operated a plant in Hazleton, Pennsylvania from 1975 to 2012, employing as many as 240 workers in the late 1990s. Appellants are all former employees of the Genova Hazleton plant. Appellant Louise Blanyar last worked at the Genova Hazleton plant in 2004. Appellant Lawrence Buchman left Genova's employ in 2006. Appellant Edward Yachera terminated his employment with Genova in 1987. The putative class action includes persons who last worked at the Genova Hazleton plant in 2009. Genova ceased operations at its Hazleton facility in 2012, more than two years before Appellants commenced this litigation.

Appellants claim to have discovered previously unavailable Material Safety and Data Sheets ("MSDSs") which reveal that, while working for Genova, they were exposed to carcinogens and other toxic chemicals linked to various diseases or conditions. Appellants allege that the MSDSs show that the materials used in the manufacture of Genova's products contained toxins subject to state and federal safety disclosure laws and other regulations. According to Appellants, Genova violated these laws and regulations, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") Hazard Communication Standard, 29 C.F.R. § 1910.1200, by failing to inform them about the chemicals to which they were exposed and by failing to provide the requisite protective equipment. While none of the members of the putative class have suffered an injury or illness linked to the substances used at Genova's plant, Appellants assert that they are entitled to medical monitoring because they are at increased risk of illness.1

Appellants' complaint identifies sixteen specific chemicals associated with increased incidences of various cancers and diseases, including both Vinyl Chloride ("VC"), a gas, and Polyvinyl Chloride ("PVC"), a powder made from VC. They state that PVC is "one of the most widely used plastic materials," and that the health hazards of both substances are "well-studied and well-documented." (App. 38 ¶ 22; 39 ¶ 28.) Appellants note that the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization have classified VC as a known human carcinogen and that the Center for Disease Control recognizes it as a "significant potential threat to human health." (App. 38 ¶ 25.) Appellants also cite medical literature dating back to the 1980s that shows increased incidences of several types of cancer, respiratory illness, and reproductive conditions in workers exposed to VC and PVC. According to Appellants' complaint, OSHA set strict standards for manufacturers who work with or around VC. See 29 C.F.R. § 1910.1017 (2017). These standards were first set in the 1970's. See 39 Fed. Reg. 23,582 (June 27, 1974).

On May 15, 2015, more than two years after the Hazleton plant closed in 2012, Appellants brought this medical monitoring action in state court on behalf of themselves and all those similarly situated, including all cohabitating family

861 F.3d 430

members.2 Genova removed the action to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act and on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The complaint alleges that Genova's negligence resulted in Appellants' occupational exposure to these toxins which has substantially increased their risk of developing serious diseases. To detect and mitigate the long term health consequences of their exposure, Appellants propose several "well-established and specialized medical monitoring procedures." (App. 41 ¶ 42.) According to Appellants, these procedures can allow for early diagnosis and treatment, and the management, mitigation, or even prevention of long term health consequences.

Genova moved to dismiss, arguing that Appellants' claims were barred by the statute of limitations.3 Appellants did not dispute the applicable two year statute of limitations for a medical monitoring claim, but contended that the statute should be tolled under the discovery rule as they were unable to reasonably discover their cause of action within the prescribed time period.4 The District Court granted Genova's motion without prejudice, holding that the discovery rule did not apply because Appellants' complaint attested to the prevalence of information regarding the dangers of PVC and VC years before this lawsuit was brought. Blanyar v. Genova Prods., Inc. , No. 15-cv-1303, 2016 WL 740941, at *7 (M.D. Pa. Feb. 25, 2016). Thus, the two year statute of limitations for their medical monitoring claim had passed with respect to the named plaintiffs. Appellants timely appealed.

II.

The District Court had jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Because the employees chose to stand on their original complaint, the District Court's order is

861 F.3d 431

final and reviewable under 28 U.S.C. § 1291.5 Borelli v. City of Reading , 532 F.2d 950, 951–52 (3d Cir. 1976). We exercise plenary review of a district court's decision to grant a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Fleisher v. Standard Ins. Co. , 679 F.3d 116, 120 (3d Cir. 2012). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, we "accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Id. (quoting Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside , 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) ).

III.

Under Pennsylvania law, the statute of limitations for a medical monitoring claim is two years. Barnes v. Am. Tobacco Co. , 161 F.3d 127, 152 (3d Cir. 1998). A medical monitoring claim accrues at the moment that an individual was "placed at a ‘significantly increased risk of contracting a serious...

To continue reading

Request your trial
44 practice notes
  • Gorton v. Air & Liquid Sys. Corp., Civ. Action No. 1:17–1110
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • March 19, 2018
    ...in state court,...state substantive law cannot deprive a federal court of its diversity jurisdiction." Blaynar v. Genova Prods., Inc., 861 F.3d 426, 431 n.5 (3d Cir. 2017). In accordance with the rationale of Blaynar, the telephone defendants' argument about workers' compensation exclusivit......
  • MDB v. Punxsutawney Christian Sch., 2:18-cv-01079
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. Western District of Pennsylvania
    • May 3, 2019
    ...whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Blanyar v. Genova Prods. Inc. , 861 F.3d 426, 431 (3d Cir. 2017) (citation omitted). The Court may consider "only the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, as......
  • OpenPittsburgh.Org v. Voye, 2:16-cv-01075
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. Western District of Pennsylvania
    • September 27, 2021
    ...the Court must generally accept as true for the purposes of ruling on the pending motions to dismiss. Blanyar v. Genova Products, Inc. , 861 F.3d 426, 431 (3d Cir. 2017).7 The specific general election, e.g. , the year, in which Plaintiffs intend to circulate a referendum petition has shift......
  • I.M. Wilson, Inc. v. Otvetstvennostyou "Grichko", CIVIL ACTION NO. 18-5194
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • November 12, 2020
    ...have known, (1) that he has been injured, and (2) that his injury has been caused by another's conduct." Blanyar v. Genova Prod. Inc. , 861 F.3d 426, 432 (3d Cir. 2017) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). The application of the discovery rule requires a plaintiff to use "all r......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
44 cases
  • Gorton v. Air & Liquid Sys. Corp., Civ. Action No. 1:17–1110
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • March 19, 2018
    ...in state court,...state substantive law cannot deprive a federal court of its diversity jurisdiction." Blaynar v. Genova Prods., Inc., 861 F.3d 426, 431 n.5 (3d Cir. 2017). In accordance with the rationale of Blaynar, the telephone defendants' argument about workers' compensation exclusivit......
  • MDB v. Punxsutawney Christian Sch., 2:18-cv-01079
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. Western District of Pennsylvania
    • May 3, 2019
    ...whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Blanyar v. Genova Prods. Inc. , 861 F.3d 426, 431 (3d Cir. 2017) (citation omitted). The Court may consider "only the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, as......
  • OpenPittsburgh.Org v. Voye, 2:16-cv-01075
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. Western District of Pennsylvania
    • September 27, 2021
    ...the Court must generally accept as true for the purposes of ruling on the pending motions to dismiss. Blanyar v. Genova Products, Inc. , 861 F.3d 426, 431 (3d Cir. 2017).7 The specific general election, e.g. , the year, in which Plaintiffs intend to circulate a referendum petition has shift......
  • I.M. Wilson, Inc. v. Otvetstvennostyou "Grichko", CIVIL ACTION NO. 18-5194
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • November 12, 2020
    ...have known, (1) that he has been injured, and (2) that his injury has been caused by another's conduct." Blanyar v. Genova Prod. Inc. , 861 F.3d 426, 432 (3d Cir. 2017) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). The application of the discovery rule requires a plaintiff to use "all r......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT