Last week, the Nevada Supreme Court addressed the appropriate analysis to determine what law governs in actions involving the diagnosis of slow-developing diseases. In Wyeth v. Rowatt, 126 Nev. Adv. Op. No. 44 (November 24, 2010), the Court adopted the "last event necessary" analysis.
In Nevada, choice of law determinations in personal injury cases are made by applying the "place-of-injury rule", unless a party presents evidence that another state has a more significant relationship with the alleged tortious conduct and the parties. In Wyeth, the Court took the opportunity to clarify the location of the place of injury in cases involving slow-developing diseases.
In Wyeth, three women used hormone therapy drugs manufactured by Wyeth and were eventually diagnosed with cancer. All three women were diagnosed with cancer in Nevada, but two of them had taken the drugs for years while residing in other states. Wyeth argued that the place of injury is the state where the disease process begins, as some courts have held.
However, the Court rejected Wyeth’s argument. Instead, the Court adopted the "last event necessary" analysis, which recognizes the place of injury as the state where the slow-developing disease is first ascertainable. In this case, because the Plaintiffs were all diagnosed in Nevada, Nevada law governed.
Steve is the Managing Shareholder of Steven J. Klearman & Associates, a civil litigation law firm located in Reno, Nevada. He practices primarily in the areas of civil litigation and injury law, and has authored one of the definitive guides to Nevada civil law that is widely used by Nevada judges and attorneys, his book entitled Elements of Nevada Legal Theories.