Response to the resolution of the Ruth case which was scheduled to begin in the multidistrict litigation proceeding pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Cleveland, Ohio on September 6, 2005
Posted September 6, 2005
Due to a combination of factors – none of which are expected to be repeated in any other welding fume case – the defendants in this trial (Hobart Brothers and ESAB) made the strategic decision to settle the Ruth case. First, procedural issues emerged that might have limited the defendants’ ability to fully present their case to the jury at trial. Second, it became apparent that trying the Ruth case would serve little purpose in the overall adjudication of the pending welding fume lawsuits, given its uniqueness. The welding industry is aware of no other claimant in either the federal MDL or state court proceedings who exhibits the same factual and medical profile as Mr. Ruth.
The combination of these two unusual factors led the defendants to conclude that it made economic sense to use the money they would have expended on a trial to resolve this unique case.
Because of the unique situation presented by the Ruth case, this settlement has no bearing on the welding defendants’ position with respect to the remaining outstanding cases. The welding defendants are committed to defending themselves vigorously against these meritless claims and believe they will be able to maintain their strong track record of defeating these claims at trial.
Indeed, the welding industry believes it is telling that plaintiffs’ counsel would decide to settle their handpicked first MDL trial for what basically amounts to defense costs. The Ruth settlement, combined with the industry’s recent (2005) trial victory in Brazoria County, Texas (Presler), should make clear that welding fume litigation holds little promise for the plaintiffs’ bar.