Response to the verdict in the Tamraz case
Posted December 5, 2007
The defendants disagree with the jury’s findings and believe they have strong grounds for appealing the verdict. Regardless, one verdict does not change the overall record of this litigation. Defendants have now prevailed in 16 of the last 18 cases tried. The welding industry has always acted responsibly on behalf of welders and is being unfairly targeted in these suits. Moreover, reliable scientific studies continue to show no association between exposure to welding fumes and neurological disorders, and the defendants will continue to defend themselves against these baseless claims.
Jurors who have heard these cases have overwhelmingly sided with the defendants. In fact, most recently, another Cleveland jury returned two defense verdicts on November 30, 2006 in the Goforth and Quinn cases, which together comprised the second federal trial in the multidistrict litigation (“MDL”). These verdicts marked significant victories for the defendants as they were returned in the first multiple-plaintiff case in the history of this litigation.
Before that, in June 2006, the welding defendants won the Solis case, the first federal MDL trial, when a jury found that the defendants did not distribute a product with a marketing defect. In the most recent cases tried to verdict outside of the MDL, juries have also repeatedly rejected plaintiffs’ claims. In November 2006, juries in Madison County, Illinois and Galveston County, Texas – both of which are regarded as pro-plaintiff jurisdictions – returned unanimous defense verdicts in the Haskell and Godwin cases.
Importantly, losing a case does not change the defendants’ position with respect to this litigation. While the defendants would like to win every case, and believe that their overall success in this litigation will continue, it is unrealistic to believe that they will never lose a case. The defendants are confident they will ultimately prevail in these cases, and will continue to try those cases not dismissed on other grounds.
The fact remains that as this litigation has progressed, it has become abundantly clear that there is little real substance to this litigation. Since January 2006, plaintiffs’ counsel have moved to dismiss more than 3,500 claims in the MDL. These dismissals follow plaintiffs’ acknowledgment that 40 percent of their federal court clients were never diagnosed with any neurological condition and 70 percent of these allegedly sick claimants never sought medical treatment. There are now approximately 70% fewer cases pending in the MDL and nearly 60 percent fewer cases pending overall than there were in January 2006.
In September 2007, the plaintiffs suffered another setback when the MDL court rejected their motion for class certification. The defendants successfully argued that medical monitoring claims are not appropriate for class certification because of the many differences among the plaintiffs’ claims.
Perhaps even more telling is the fact that of the nine trial candidates selected by plaintiffs in the MDL (eight were selected by plaintiffs from the entire case pool and the ninth was selected by the plaintiffs from a group of six nominated for trial by defendants), plaintiffs dismissed three cases outright after it was revealed that one plaintiff had dramatically exaggerated his symptoms and two others lied about illegal drug use. Plaintiffs declined to proceed to trial on three more cases, and the remaining three cases were tried to defense verdicts. For more details on these dismissed cases and an update on the status of this litigation, please see the Welding Fume Litigation Status Report.
There is also a rapidly growing body of sound science rejecting plaintiff’s claims. The most reliable and comprehensive epidemiological studies to be done on this issue continue to show no association between welding and neurological disorders. For a synopsis of the existing body of science and theories, please see the Studies section of this website which contains some of the most important studies related to this issue.