Rainer v. Union Carbide Corp.

402 F.3d 608 (6th Cir. 2005)



Summary judgment is proper where there exists no genuine issue of material fact and one party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In considering a motion for summary judgment, a district court must construe the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. The central issue is whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.


Workers sued defendants operators of a uranium-enrichment plant and a supplier of spent uranium fuel, alleging under the Price-Anderson Act (PAA) that they were exposed to toxic transuranics at the plant, which defendants knew and deliberately failed to disclose and which caused the workers to suffer subcellular damage to their DNA and chromosomes. Defendants argued that, with regard to workers actually employed by the operators, the Kentucky Workers' Compensation Act was the exclusive remedy, and that the workers displayed no clinical symptoms and thus did not suffer any bodily injury as required to support their claims under the PAA. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants.


Is an employer covered by the Kentucky Workers' Compensation Act if it did not intend to injure workers where they did not show any signs of contamination?




The Court first held that, in the absence of evidence that the operators had the specific intent to injure the workers who were employees, such workers' remedies were limited to those provided by the KWCA. Further, while the subcellular damage to the workers from the exposure to radiation was predictive of future disease, the workers lacked any present physical illness and the subcellular damage did not by itself constitute bodily injury sufficient to support the PAA claims. Also, the PAA provided adequate remedial mechanisms for alleged constitutional violations by defendants, and thus there was no basis for implying a separate federal constitutional remedy.

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