Jeff Hebrank

Five years after Steve Boren filed a welding rod lawsuit in Madison County Circuit Court, his case finally has finally gone to trial in Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron’s third floor courtroom.

After a three-day-long jury selection process, opening arguments were heard Thursday.

Boren, of Cape Girardeau, alleges he suffered neurological injuries after being exposed to manganese-containing welding fumes. He is staying at a Collinsville hotel during the trial.

In the suit filed Sept. 12, 2000, Boren claimed he inhaled neurotoxic welding fumes while using welding products or was near people using welding products.

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

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.

Boren is represented by the Goldenberg firm in Edwardsville and the Vaughan Cascino Law Offices in Chicago. Jeff Hebrank of the Burroughs law firm in Edwardsville represents several of the defendants.

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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