In a banner day for the welding industry, juries returned separate defense verdicts in two cases tried in plaintiff friendly jurisdictions.
A Madison County, Illinois jury found in favor of the industry in the Haskell case. Plaintiff, Michael Haskell, was employed for 25 years as a welder for between 45 and 50 different employers. Haskell’s treating neurologist diagnosed Haskell as suffering from Parkinson’s disease. However, plaintiff’s expert, Dr. Paul Nausieda, diagnosed Haskell with manganism. Defense experts agreed with plaintiff’s own doctor that Haskell suffered from Parkinson’s disease and defended the case on the lack of evidence linking manganese exposure to PD. The jury returned a unanimous verdict for defendants after deliberating for half a day.
Later the same day, a Galveston, Texas jury took just three hours to unanimously reject the plaintiff’s claims in the Montalbano case. The plaintiff, Catherine Godwin, 54, worked as a welder in the Navy from 1989 to 1993. Godwin claimed that she suffered from parkinsonism, which she alleged was caused by her exposure to welding fumes. Defendants countered that Godwin did not have a brain injury and that her symptoms had a psychological, as opposed to physical origin. Defendants further argued the lack of any scientific proof linking her alleged symptoms to welding fume exposure.
The Gulf Coast and Madison County are both widely considered to be plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions. With the two defense verdict returned today, the welding industry has successfully defended 14 of 15 welding fume cases tried to date.