Week 45 (2020)

Week of November 2, 2020 through November 6, 2020

Adams v. American Optical Corp. (Floyd 11/6/2020): The Fourth Circuit held that Virginia’s two-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims barred the plaintiff-appellant’s (Adams) allegations regarding his diagnosis of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), also known as black lung. Under Virginia law, the statute of limitations begins to run when the injury is sustained and “not when the resulting damage is discovered.” Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-230. The court found that because there was some undisputed evidence that proved to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that Adams developed CWP more than two years before filing his suit, any disputes concerning the importance of particular pieces of medical evidence were immaterial and thus, there was no genuine dispute that Adams developed CWP outside the limitations period. Specifically, a 2013 pulmonary function test indicated that Adams was developing CWP and Adams conceded that he progressed through the three initial stages of simple CWP, which usually develops over a number of years. Recognizing that Virginia’s statute of limitations might produce an unfair result, the court affirmed the district court’s grant of defendants’ motions for summary judgment. Full Opinion 

Hugh Gallagher