Medical expert testifies in weld rod trial

Ann Knef Nov. 8, 2005, 8:59am

In the fourth day of a Cape Girardeau man's welding rod trial in Madison County, defense attorney Pat Gloor of Chicago hammered the testimony of medical expert Paul Nausieda, M.D., a Chicago neurologist.

Steve Boren, a welder, filed suit more than five years ago alleging he suffered neurological injuries after being exposed to manganese-containing welding fumes. Seated just a few feet from the jury box, Boren's left arm shook during the trial Tuesday.

Some of the defendants on trial include Praxair, Viacom, Union Carbide, The BOC Group, Sandvik Inc, and Lincoln Electric.

Nausieda, who conducted trial-attorney funded mass screenings of Louisiana shipyard workers in Louisiana in 2001, testified that as a clinician he is seeing an increasing number of patients with manganese toxicity, which causes Parkinson's Disease.

"I see seven to 10 new patients a week," he said. "Week by week and year by year there are more. (And) the patients are younger and younger."

But Gloor countered that Nausieda contradicted himself in earlier testimony, claiming that he earlier stated, that "the neurological community generally does not accept welding fumes as a cause of Parkinson's Disease."

Nausieda's one-day court appearance in Madison County net him a $10,000 fee.

Suggesting his study was flawed, Nausieda submitted the research conducted on 3,500 Louisiana shipyard workers to the Annals of Internal Medicine, but "they said, 'we don't want to publish it'," Gloor stated.

"That's a gross misstatement," Nausieda countered, explaining that the legal issue soured the editors' decision and the study was not epidemiological.

After an inaudible question fired by Gore prompted Nausieda to retort, "That's a cheap shot," presiding Judge Nicholas Byron intervened by calling for a chamber conference with attorneys.

Boren, represented by Goldenberg Miller Heller & Antognoli of Edwardsville and the Vaughan Cascino Law Offices in Chicago, is staying at a Collinsville hotel during the trial. Attorney Robert McCoy of the Vaughan Cascino firm conducted the witness examination at trial Tuesday.

Jeff Hebrank of the Burroughs law firm in Edwardsville represents several of the defendants.

Welding products cause emissions of fumes that contain manganese which has been medically recognized as toxic to the human central nervous system in levels that exceed trace amounts normally found in the human body.

People exposed to welding fumes absorb them through inhalation, and according to the plaintiff's exposure for a period as short as 49 days causes disabling injuries.

The trial is expected to last four- to six weeks.

In October 2003, Larry Elam of Collinsville who claimed his Parkinson’s disease was caused by welding fumes was awarded $1 million by a Madison County jury in the first ever successfully litigated weld-rod case in the country. Associate Judge Ralph Mendelsohn presided over the Elam case.

In Elam's case, the jury ruled that welding-rod manufacturers were responsible for failing to warn him about serious health risks. Elam said he used rods manufactured and distributed by major companies across the country.

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