Seven personal injury lawsuits seeking a combined total of $33.7 million were filed in Madison County Circuit Court on behalf of plaintiffs claiming they were exposed to manganese-containing welding fumes which resulted in their neurological injuries.
The "weld-rod" cases filed by Keith Short and Holly Reese of Goldenberg, Miller, Heller, & Antognoli of Edwardsville have all been assigned to Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron.
The plaintiffs include Ronald Kirback and Theodore Boyer of Madison County, James Anderson of Jerseyville County, John Petschonek and Carl Holden of St. Louis County, Rudy Recer of Jefferson County, Mo., and Paul Dunn of Franklin County, Mo. Their individual suits seek between $4.3 and $4.9 million.
In October 2003, Larry Elam of Collinsville was awarded $1 million by a Madison County jury in the first ever successfully litigated weld-rod case in the country.
In the suits filed June 28, the plaintiffs claimed they inhaled neurotoxic welding fumes while using welding products or were near people using welding products while they were working.
Among the 24 defendants named in the suits were A.O. Smith, Dow Chemical, Praxair, General Electric and the American Welding Society.
The plaintiffs claim that the defendants conspired to misrepresent health effects of welding fumes and failed to disclose conflicts of authors being paid as witnesses by the industry.
“Any reasonable person, if adequately informed of the hazards of exposure to welding fumes, would not have willingly exposed themselves to welding fumes in the workplace without taking precautionary measures,” the suit claims.
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 the trace amounts normally found in the human body.
People exposed to welding fumes absorb them into their body through inhalation, and according to the plaintiffs’ exposure for a period as short as 49 days causes disabling injuries.
The plaintiffs claim that with the knowledge of health hazards of manganese in welding fumes, the defendants’ acted in concert and conspired in a common plan to suppress medical information about the toxic effects of manganese, failed to warn users of the health hazards, and breached their duty to instruct about proper ventilation.
The also allege that their injuries permanently diminish their earning capacities, restrict their lifestyle, require substantial bills for continuing medical care, and suffer from great pain and mental anguish.
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