Exposure Doesn't Cause Parkinson's Disease,
Welding Rod Defendants Say
Toxic Chemicals Litigation Reporter
Volume 22; Issue 11
Numerous plaintiffs who worked as welders across
the country have filed suit against manufacturers and suppliers
of welding products, charging that welding rods can create toxic
levels of manganese, which can lead to injuries such as the early
onset of Parkinson's disease (see Toxic Torts LR, Vol. 22, Iss.
The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation
has consolidated more than 4,000 claims in the U.S. District Court
for the Northern District of Ohio. The MDL is presided over by
U.S. District Judge Kathleen O'Malley.
The named manufacturer and supplier defendants
in these cases include Lincoln Electric Holding Inc., Airco Inc.
and A.O. Smith Corp. Some complaints also name large industrial
consumers of welding products, such as Caterpillar Inc. and General
In this memorandum in support of a motion to exclude
all testimony that exposure to welding fumes causes Parkinson's
disease, the defendants argue that no scientific literature establishes
that welding fumes cause or accelerate the onset of Parkinson's
The defendants charge that allowing the plaintiffs
to introduce expert evidence to the contrary would violate the
rule that litigants must employ scientifically expert testimony
outlined in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc., 509 U.S.
The memo asserts that excluding a "very small
percentage of cases where genetic factors have been implicated
(under 1,000 world-wide)," scientists have been unable to
identify the cause of Parkinson's disease despite more than one
and one-half centuries of research.
First described in 1817 by James Parkinson, the
disease is a slowly progressive degenerative movement disorder.
The defendants cite numerous epidemiologic studies
that have found no statistically significant association between
welding fumes and Parkinson's disease.
For example, a 1999 case-control study by Dr. Joseph
Tsui evaluated whether several occupations, including welding,
were associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's disease
among the general population of Vancouver, British Columbia. Although
Tsui reported associations between Parkinson's disease and numerous
occupations, welding was not among those found to be associated
with Parkinson's disease, the defendants say.
Finally, the defendants argue that excluding testimony
that welding fumes cause or accelerate Parkinson's disease have
widespread application to this case. Such a ruling would dispose
of claims where plaintiffs allege that their Parkinson's disease
The defendants are represented by R. Eric Kennedy
and David Landever of Weisman, Kennedy & Berris in Cleveland
and by John Beisner, Charles Read and Stephen Harburg of O'Melveny
& Myers in Washington, D.C.
Full Case Name: In re Welding Rod Products Liability
Litigation|Short Case Name: In re Welding Rod Prods. Liab. Litig.|Court:
N.D. Ohio|Case Action: memo to exclude testimony filed|Docket
Number: No. MDL 1535|Action Date: 6/17/2004