Copyright (c) 2002 Tulane University
Tulane Law Review
PRACTITIONER'S NOTE: Collecting Damages Based Upon a Fear of Developing Cancer in Louisiana*
* This Note addresses an individual's fear of contracting a disease, namely cancer, in the future. It does not address the fear that someone else may contract a disease or cancer in the future.
76 Tul. L. Rev. 1141
Caroline McSherry Dolan+, Sallye G. Webb**
In Louisiana, an individual's fear of contracting a disease such as cancer has been recognized as a compensable type of mental anguish or emotional distress. This Note explores the law in Louisiana concerning a claim for "fear of cancer."
In 1974, the Louisiana Supreme Court in Anderson v. Welding Testing Laboratory, Inc. recognized as compensable a fear of contracting cancer. 1 It did not, however, articulate either the elements of, or a detailed burden of proof for the recovery of damages for, such a claim. 2 Many courts, in fact, have relied upon the standard for compensability set forth in Hagerty v. L & L Marine Services, Inc., a case decided under maritime, rather than Louisiana, law. 3 Reviewing both federal and state jurisprudence on this issue since Anderson, this Note attempts to define the elements a plaintiff must establish and what evidence is necessary to prevail on a claim for damages based upon mental anguish suffered as a result of the fear of contracting a disease, particularly cancer, in the future.
II. Anderson v. Welding Testing Laboratory, Inc.
The seminal case in Louisiana on fear of cancer is Anderson v. Welding Testing Laboratory, Inc., which clearly establishes that in Louisiana a person can recover for a justified fear that he or she may acquire cancer. 4 Plaintiff Anderson was a welder who suffered radiation burns to his left hand as a result of handling a radioactive pill negligently left by ...
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