The "Hotel Melanoma" moniker is a metaphor for living with my particular brand of cancer. Except for those lucky few of us deemed "cured", all we cancer survivors are guests of one of the many, many branded hotels in the "Hotel Carcinoma" chain. We can check out any time we like, but we can never leave. Meanwhile, let's be livin' it up; and please support cancer education, prevention, and treatment research.

Tutu Brothers

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Law Jive

Not that I’d ever get involved in such mischief, but I heard about a number of my molemates peppering a tanning salon chain’s Facebook page with some ‘public service announcements’ regarding the known link between indoor tanning and melanoma. This got me to wondering about the products liability legal issues arising from tanning bed usage, so I did a brief bit of Googling.

Before I “talk law”, let me set a few things straight. I’m a retired lawyer, in a blissful state of “one day at a time” recovery from the profession. I am NOT giving legal advice. Nor am I suggesting that anyone should remotely consider retaining my legal services if I wasn’t retired-- I was to the courtroom what Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife was to law enforcement. And since personal injury law was not what I did for a living, I hereby disclaim having any expertise whatsoever in this field.

But here’s the scoop. Where medical research goes, plaintiffs’ lawyers quickly follow. So with all of the published medical evidence showing a direct causal link between indoor tanning and a greatly increased risk and incidence of melanoma, particularly among women under age 40, it should come as no surprise to anyone that there are a lot of personal injury plaintiffs’ lawyers out there who seem to be quite interested in bringing products liability claims against tanning bed manufacturers and tanning salons. (At least one of these enterprising lawyers has suggested that tanning beds are “the new cigarette”, and class-action lawyers may go after the indoor tanning industry like they did the tobacco industry.) Theories of liability include the “strict liability” claim that tanning beds are inherently “defective”, liability based on the failure to provide adequate warning of the potential dangers of tanning bed use, and false advertising claims based on misrepresentations concerning the supposed safety of indoor tanning.

My guess is that the industry defends such suits with the time-honored “blame some other guy” defense, arguing that the plaintiff’s melanoma was caused by genetic factors and outdoor tanning, in an effort to deflect the medical evidence linking indoor tanning to melanoma. But that’s the stuff of which lawsuits are made.

So, if your dermatologist or oncologist has ever told you they think your indoor tanning history has something to do with causing your melanoma, you just might want to consider seeking a case evaluation from a first-rate personal injury lawyer with experience in bringing products liability lawsuits against the indoor tanning industry. Just sayin’…


  1. I really enjoyed this post, Rich. I like your serious side! ;-) It should be very interesting to sit back and watch lawyers/melanoma warriors/tanning salons in the coming years....

  2. Rich, I was thinking about the similarities between lung cancer/smoking and melanoma/tanning the other day and realized they have much in common. And I wondered when the first class action law suit might come against the tanning industry. I think it's only a matter of time. Your blog reaches MANY people...and taking this serious turn will certainly cause notice. This is great stuff...thanks for planting the suggestion.

  3. I'm a former "tanning bed queen" and the salon I went to for nearly 10 years made me sign a waiver claiming that I fully understand that there is a link between melanoma and tanning beds, and I'm basically entering at my own risk. As much as I'd love to put the blame for my skin cancer, I'm the one who slathered up in tan excellorating lotions and soaked up the rays. I was the cause of my stage 3 melanoma. Granted I don't think the salon did enough to discourage my tanning addiction, but I can't seem to gather the courage to go after them for fiscal responsibility. Thanks for this great article.. it got me thinking! Cheers!

  4. I got my excessive UV rays the old-fashioned way, outdoors, and I bear sole responsibility for my diagnosis. But the story may be different for others, so I decided to put the "law talk" out there for the benefit of those who may have had no idea they might have a legal remedy. Thanks everyone for your comments!

  5. Hi Rich,
    In your research, was there any mention of a time line in the cause -> effect. Just wondering. Only was in a tanning bed about 1/2 dozen times 25 years ago. That's probably too remote I would think. People would probably want to know the answer to that question.
    Thanks for the post.