Lawsuit Against Manufacturers for Allergic Reactions Damages

In Kennedy v. Baxter Healthcare Corp. (1996) two health care workers brought suit against a variety of manufacturers and sellers of latex gloves for injuries sustained by an entire class of health care workers due to allergic reactions to the protein in the gloves. The court of appeal affirmed the trial court's sustaining demurrers on the ground that the action was not amenable to class certification. "Individual sensitivities to latex proteins vary and may be exacerbated by the use of certain foods. Class members may have used the product over an extended period time, giving rise to possible statute of limitations defense in some cases. As one defendant phrased it, the case involved employees using different gloves manufactured by different defendants over different periods of time with different frequencies of use." (Id., at p. 806, 50 Cal. Rptr. 2d 736.) The appellate court concluded that class treatment of the claim was inappropriate given the "veritable quagmire" of individual questions of causation and damages affecting each plaintiff. (Id., at p. 813.) Although the plaintiffs in Kennedy v. Baxter Healthcare Corp. did seek equitable relief in the form of a medical monitoring fund, the court did not focus the individual issues inherent in such a cause of action. As we have discussed above, the existence of these claims here will only cause an exponential increase in the number and complexity of the individual fact questions that the trier of fact would have to consider.