N.Y. Court Allows Negligence Claim on Drug Tester

ALBANY (AP) -

New York’s highest court agreed Thursday to let a man sue a drug-testing company for what he claims was a false positive test for marijuana that cost him a promised job, prospective marriage and months of anguish when he was threatened with prison.

In a 4-3 decision, the Court of Appeals ruled that Eric Landon may pursue his negligence claim against Kroll Laboratory Specialists over the 2007 saliva analysis done under contract with Orange County. The majority said the lab has “a duty of care” toward its testing subject.

Landon obtained a blood test from a private lab the same day and later submitted to a county urine test, both of which were negative. But an attorney for Louisiana-based Kroll argued the test result wasn’t wrong but was based on a low testing threshold.

“Without question, the release of a false positive report will have profound, potentially life-altering consequences,” Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman wrote.

“The laboratory is also in the best position to prevent false positive results. Under the circumstances, we find that Kroll had a duty to the test subject to perform his drug test in keeping with relevant professional standards….”

In a dissent, Judge Eugene Pigott Jr. wrote that this opinion “opens the door” for parolees, probationers, job applicants and others subject to drug and alcohol testing to sue independent, third-party drug labs.