Earlier this month, a New York appellate court held that claims against the manufacturer of protective devices for ears were barred by the three-year statute of limitations governing actions to recover damages for personal injury. Miniero v. City of New York, 2009 N.Y. Slip Op. 06364 (N.Y.A.D. 1st Dep’t, Sept. 1, 2009). The plaintiffs in Miniero, current and former members of the New York City Police Department who allegedly suffered hearing loss due to the sound of gunfire at firing ranges, sued the manufacturer of protective devices that the plaintiffs claim to have worn while practicing at the ranges. While the trial court denied a motion for summary judgment brought by the manufacturer, the appellate court reversed, finding that the claims were barred by the three-year limitations period provided by N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214. The plaintiffs requested that the court analyze the limitations period under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214-c, which provides for the limitations period to run from the date of discovery in certain circumstances where the injury is caused by the latent effects of exposure to any substance. However, the court, relying on expert evidence, found that injuries such as those alleged by the plaintiffs could manifest themselves immediately upon exposure to very loud noises. For that reason, the court declined to analyze the limitations period under the “exceptional accrual” rule of section 214-c.
The court also held that the plaintiffs’ failure-to-warn claims were barred because the warning provided by the manufacturer complied with Environmental Protection Agency regulations.