Lawsuits claim welding fumes cause Parkinson's-like illness

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Dec. 26, 2008, 10:27am

Carlile Law Firm in Marshall

MARSHALL -- Two recently filed lawsuits filed in Marshall allege workers developed nervous system disorders because of exposure to welding fumes without adequate ventilation.

Plaintiffs William Ainsworth, Larry Goodson, J.K. Kinsler, Lloyd Kee, James Milam, Russell Nalls, Amos Snow, Louis Woodruff, and Helen Towns, individually and as estate representative of Sterling Towns, filed the lawsuit against The Lincoln Electric Company, Linde Inc. formerly known as The Boc Group Inc., TDY Industries Inc. and Hobart Brothers Company. The suit was filed on Dec. 17 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

The defendants, manufactures or large consumers of welding products, are also facing an identical suit filed by Frank Brevard in Marshall federal court.

According to the lawsuits, during the welding process, fumes are emitted that contain manganese, which is medically recognized as toxic to the human central nervous system.

The plaintiffs argue that the exposure of manganese causes a progressive condition called manganese poisoning or intoxication. This condition shows neurological symptoms similar and/or often confused with Parkinson's disease.

The plaintiffs state that the cumulative effect of exposure to welding fumes has been well known for decades, but despite knowing these dangers, the defendants failed to warn the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs claim that if they had known of the risk, they would have taken necessary precautionary measures.

Causes of action allege include strict liability, marketing defect, design defect, breach of warranty, and negligence.

The complaint argues the defendants are aware of the dangers due to participation in the trade organizations National Electrical Manufacturers Associations and the American Welding Society, which took on the "responsibility of safety and warnings of users of welding products."

"Defendants designated the trade association committees responsibility for the following safety and health matters relating to welding fumes: the investigation of health hazards; writing and publishing precautionary product labels and other health and safety information; and writing and publishing specifications and standards relating to the ventilations, safety equipment and other precautionary measures," the court documents state.

Further, the plaintiffs claim the defendants used these organizations to commit fraud and negligent misrepresentations, concealing, suppressing, and omitting material information regarding the effects of welding fumes.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish, loss of earning capacity, disfigurement, physical impairment, mental impairment, medical expenses and care, household services, loss of consortium, medical monitoring, fear of cancer or future disease, funeral and burial expenses.

Marshall attorney Bruce Craig of The Carlile Law Firm is representing the plaintiffs.

The lawsuits will be combined into the multidistrict litigation, In re Welding Fumes Product Liability Litigation MDL 1535, pending out of the Northern District of Ohio. Once pretrial proceedings are complete, the case will be return to the Marshall court for trial.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward is assigned to the litigation.

Case No 2:08cv473 (Ainsworth et al)

Case No 2:08:cv474 (Brevard)

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