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AKRON, Ohio - (Mealey's) The eighth trial in the national welding fumes products liability litigation consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio concluded May 27 with a defense verdict for Lincoln Electric Co.; final judgment was entered May 28 and reflects the order dismissing the claims against Hobart Brothers Co. at the conclusion of the plaintiff's case (In re: Welding Fume Products Liability Litigation, [David Mann, No.# 06-17288], No. 03-17000, MDL 1535, N.D. Ohio).
South Dakota resident David Mann was the plaintiff in the trial. Claims against TDY Industries Inc. were dismissed in February. Linde, f/k/a BOC Group Inc. as successor to Airco Inc., and The ESAB Group Inc. were dismissed from the case on April 23.
The jury concluded that Mann failed to prove the claim for strict products liability against Lincoln Electric. Mann proved his claim of negligence against Lincoln Electric, but the jury also found that Lincoln Electric had proven that Mann's employers were sophisticated users. As a result, the jury concluded, Lincoln Electric did not have a duty to warn Mann directly of the risks from using its welding consumables.
National counsel for the welding consumables manufacturers John H. Beisner of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Washington, D.C., issued a statement May 27 in which he characterizes the verdict as additional evidence that the claims of the welders lack merit.
"We are pleased with this defense verdict, which demonstrates, once again, that these claims cannot withstand jury scrutiny," Beisner said in the announcement. "Jurors who have heard these claims have overwhelmingly sided with the defendants. With today's verdict, defendants have now prevailed in 25 of the last 30 cases tried.
"As the broader welding fume litigation has progressed, it has become abundantly clear that the plaintiffs' claims have no merit. Plaintiffs have dismissed thousands of claims in the federal MDL proceeding, and recently dismissed more than two-thirds of the MDL cases they had certified as trial-worthy. Moreover, plaintiffs have been forced to dismiss six cases in the advanced stages of trial preparation due to outright fraud," according to Beisner.
"The welding industry has always worked to ensure the health and safety of its welders and until the plaintiffs decide to withdraw these claims - or are forced by the courts to do so - the defendants will continue to defend themselves vigorously against the remaining suits."
Mann filed his lawsuit in August 2006 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. It was moved in October 2006 to the consolidated multidistrict national welding products liability litigation in the Northern District of Ohio.
The welders whose claims are consolidated in the national products liability action allege that the welding industry failed to warn welders of the risks of neurological injury from inhaling mild-steel welding fume containing manganese.
[Editor's Note: Full coverage will be in the June 8 issue of Mealey's Litigation Report: Welding Rods. In the meantime, the final judgment is available at www.mealeysonline.com or by calling the Customer Support Department at 1-800-833-9844. Document #70-100608-012R. For all of your legal news needs, please visit www.lexisnexis.com/mealeys.]
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For more information, call editor Bill G. Lowe at 610-205-1109, or e-mail him at email@example.com.