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Verdict Stands in Former Welders Lawsuit

In early 2006, the Illinois Supreme Court refused to overturn a verdict in the case of several former welders who claimed that the fumes breathed in during their careers had caused or increased their chances of developing Parkinson's disease. The Original Case Though several welding rod cases have produced multi-million dollar settlements, the original case in question is a landmark because it is the only welding rod verdict ever decided in favor of the plaintiff. The case, entitled Elam v. A.O.

Smith, contended that the plaintiff, a 64-year-old Illinois welder who worked in the profession for 30 years, suffered neurological damage from long-term exposure to the toxic fumes that are a byproduct of welding rods. During the original case, the outcome was a hung jury, but Illinois law requires a unanimous decision by the jury; Jack Elam was awarded $1 million in compensation during the retrial. The jury found that A.

O. Smith failed to provide adequate safety warnings about the dangers of manganese in welding rod fumes. The verdict was a watershed in more ways than one - it unleashed a wave of welding rod litigation once attorneys knew that it was possible for a verdict to be awarded in the plaintiff's favor. Since this case, welding rod litigation has become so prevalent that in Ohio, a multi-district lawsuit is in the works; it numbers well over 3,000 plaintiffs.

Lost on Appeal The defendants in the original case quickly appealed the case, contending that it did in fact adequately warn workers of the dangers of working with welding rod fumes. However, in December 2005, the 5th District Appellate Court of Illinois found that the company did not warn workers adequately, upholding the $1 million verdict. The court was taken before the Illinois Supreme Court on second appeal.

Because of this, former welders filing litigation to receive compensation had elevated hopes of effectively winning future cases while the welding industry struggled to cope with the verdict. Former Welders Cling to Hope; Continue to Litigate Despite the fact that the $1 million verdict is the only one ever given to a welding rod litigant, former welders who are suffering from Parkinson's, manganism and other occupational illnesses related to their welding work are retaining hope. Welding rod attorneys hope that the Elam v. A.

O. Smith will set a precedent that allows other litigants to collect damages for their occupational exposure to manganese. Individuals who have previously worked in the welding industry and who suffer extreme health problems that may be associated with the inhalation of allegedly toxic welding rod fumes are advised to contact a qualified law firm to better understand details of their case.

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