Last week, New York State’s Court of Appeals ruled to permit a man to sue a drug-testing company for a false-positive test result that allegedly cost him a job, a spouse, and time and money spent fighting an attempt to send him to prison.
Eric Landon, a 42-year-old former funeral director, was convicted of second-degree forgery and given probation. His probation required him to submit to periodic, random drug testing. Orange County hired Louisiana-based Kroll Laboratory Specialists to conduct the testing.
Orange County ordered a random drug test near the end of Landon’s probation. A positive test result for THC—found in marijuana—led probation officials to try to revoke Landon’s probation and send him to prison. However, Landon obtained a test from a different lab the same day and later submitted to another urinalysis. Both tests came back negative.
A Kroll attorney later claimed that the company’s positive test result was not incorrect but was based on a low testing threshold.
Landon subsequently sued. After a lower court dismissed for failure to state a cause of action, Landon eventually received a positive holding from the Court of Appeals, which held that Kroll owed him a duty of care.
“Without question, the release of a false positive report will have profound, potentially life-altering, consequences for a test subject,” 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.”
Landon, who argued his own case before the court, says he refused a $600,000 settlement offer and wants to bring the Orange County Probation Department into the trial as a defendant. Landon believes others on probation lacking the resources to mount a legal challenge have been bullied into prison.