Rainer v. Union Carbide Corporation

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


The PDGP is an industrial plant located built by the federal government as part of an initial foray into uranium processing. It has been managed since its construction by three successive operators (Ds). They are Union Carbide, Martin Marietta, and Lockheed Martin Utilities Services. PGDP enriches uranium. Enriched uranium is not a highly radioactive material, but it is known to be toxic, both chemically and radiologically, if ingested. The plant has intermittently reprocessed spent uranium that has been removed from nuclear reactors. As a consequence of receiving and processing spent uranium, PGDP became contaminated. The employees were apparently kept ignorant about the presence of neptunium or plutonium at the plant. Company documents also reveal a disregard for worker safety. Ps allege they have suffered certain subcellular damage to their DNA and chromosomes. Experts testified that exposure constitutes irreversible harm and damage to the body. But none of the Ps display any outward signs of any type of radiation diseases. The district court dismissed the claims brought by the Class I Ps, concluding that the Kentucky Workers' Compensation Act provided the exclusive remedy. Their Bivens claims were dismissed one year later in that the Price-Anderson Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2011, preempted state-law claims. It further held that Ps' evidence of subcellular damage was insufficient to be considered 'bodily injury' under the Price-Anderson Act. Ps appealed.