Lincoln Electric Cleared in Manganese Exposure Trial
Margaret Cronin Fisk
April 29 (Bloomberg) -- A Texas jury cleared Lincoln Electric
Holdings Inc., the world's largest maker of welding equipment, and
other manufacturers in a suit by a 58-year-old welder who said
exposure to manganese on the job made him sick.
The case was filed by Ronald Presler, a welder for 26 years,
who worked for a company that made oil industry equipment. Presler
claimed exposure to toxic manganese fumes in the welding process
caused a neurological disorder akin to Parkinson's disease. He
sought more than $10 million in damages. The jury found no link
between his illness and manganese exposure.
The suit is one of several thousand against Lincoln Electric
and other manufacturers. Exposure to high levels of manganese can
cause manganism, a permanent injury to the part of the brain that
controls body movements, according to the Agency for Toxic
Substances and Disease Registry of the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control. Welding rod companies have lost only one of 10 cases that
have gone to trial, industry attorney John Beisner said.
"Despite all their hype, plaintiffs cannot establish
causation in these cases, because it just isn't there,'' Beisner
said in a statement. "Today's decision further illustrates there
is no causal link between mild steel welding and Parkinson's disease or any other Parkinson's-like movement disorder,'' he
Also cleared by the state court jury in Angleton, Texas,
today were Hobart Brothers Co. and TDY Industries Inc., a
subsidiary of Allegheny Technologies Inc.
`The Next Asbestos'
The Presler verdict will slow down the filing of new suits
and progress on pending ones, Washington attorney Gregory Neppl
"The plaintiffs' bar has been hoping for this to be the next
asbestos as a source of revenue,'' Neppl said. Suits over asbestos
exposure have generated billions of dollars in judgments for
plaintiffs with lung cancer and other diseases. Seventy-four
companies have been forced into bankruptcy by asbestos litigation.
"The plaintiffs' attorneys will have to evaluate the
prospect of doing a lot of work and getting nothing for it,'' said
Neppl, who's been following the litigation on behalf of interested
investors and isn't involved in the lawsuits.
Presler's attorney, Mikal Watts, said he hasn't decided
whether to appeal.
Today's verdict came in the second trial over Presler's
claim. In February, a mistrial was declared when a previous jury
deadlocked, voting 8-4 for Presler, two short of the 10 votes
required for a verdict, Watts said.
Shares of Cleveland-based Lincoln Electric rose $1.30 to
$30.55 at 4:18 p.m. in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading.
Shares of Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Technologies rose 20 cents to
$22.40 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.
The lawsuit is Presler v. The Lincoln Electric Co., No.
23472, in the 23rd District Court, Brazoria County, Texas.