Group sues over welding fumes

By John O'Brien | Dec 14, 2006

WAYNE - Eight married couples have filed suit in Wayne Circuit Court against several companies alleging that they are too blame for their employees' exposure to harmful fumes.

The lawsuit was entered Nov. 17.

"This action is brought on behalf of Plaintiffs who have sustained direct and/or consequential effects, injuries and/or damages as a result of the exposure to welding fumes containing manganese and on behalf of Plaintiffs' spouses who have suffered the loss of services from their respective husbands," the complaint says.

Nine companies are listed as defendants: Airco, Inc., and Esab Group, Inc., of Delaware; Hobart Brothers Co., and Lincoln Electric Co. of Ohio; and Beckley Welding Supply, Inc., Mabscot Supply Co., Tri-State Oxygen of West Virginia, Inc., Valley National Gases, Inc., and Willard C. Starcher, Inc., of West Virginia.

According to the complaint, each defendant had a hand in adding manganese to metals during a manufacturing process.

"When these products are used in their ordinary manner as intended, they give off fumes, particulates and gases that contain toxins, such as manganese," the complaint adds. "Persons, including Plaintiffs, who welded and/or who were in the proximity of persons who welded were exposed to, took and/or absorbed hazardous welding fumes, particulates and/or gases.

"Defendants have known for a long time that Manganese fumes are a toxin posting serius health hazards and that such fumes have the potential to cause a variety of serious injuries."

The plaintiffs claim the defendants could have brushed up on the effects of Manganese fumes through scientific, medical and trade literate; participation in the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, American Welding Society and American National Standards Institute; their insurers; and product research and testing.

"As a result of their exposure to welding fumes, Plaintiffs have developed, including but not limited to, serious neurological injuries," the complaint says.

The plaintiffs say they worked for various employers for significant periods of time, during which they used the defendants' products.

The plaintiffs are: Donald and Lois Barcus; Paul and Judy Jarrell; Albert and Cathy Mitchem; Dannie and Benona Osborne; Arthur and Linda Porter; Roger and Nancy Stewart; William and Karen Thomas; and Virgil and Wilma Wade.

They charge the defendants with strict liability, negligence, fraudulent concealment, misrepresentation, loss of consortium and wantonness and seek compensatory and punitive damages

Thomas G. Wilson of Charleston's James Humphreys and Associates is representing the plaintiffs.

Judge Darrell Pratt has been assigned the case.

Wayne Circuit Court case number 06-C-265

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