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Lincoln Electric Cleared in Welding-Rod Lawsuit

Margaret Cronin Fisk


Bloomberg News

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Lincoln Electric Holdings Inc. and seven other welding-equipment manufacturers won an Illinois lawsuit brought by a welder who said exposure to manganese on the job made him sick.

The welder, Stephen Boren, 51, claimed toxic manganese fumes released from welding rods caused him to develop Parkinson's disease. A state court jury in Madison County, Illinois, found today there was no connection between Boren's occupation and his disease, industry attorney John Beisner said.

The suit is one of several thousand against welding-equipment makers including Lincoln Electric, the world's largest, contending that manganese fumes cause neurological disorders. Welding-rod companies have lost only one of the 11 lawsuits at trial, Beisner said.

"The one place they have won was in Madison County, recognized as a plaintiffs-friendly jurisdiction, and now it turns out they can't even win there,'' Beisner said in an interview. "It's another indication this litigation isn't going anywhere.''

Boren, who had asked for as much as $8 million in damages, hasn't decided whether to appeal, said his attorney, Keith Short. Newer research connecting Parkinson's to manganese exposure wasn't available for Boren's trial, Short said.

Plaintiffs' Victories

"We'll start seeing more and more plaintiffs' victories,'' Short said in an interview. "This case just went to trial too soon.''

The defendants also included Viacom Inc., Union Carbide Corp., BOC Group Inc., TDY Industries Inc., ESAB Group, and Praxair Inc. ESAB is a welding unit of Charter Plc. TDY is a unit of Allegheny Technologies Inc.

Boren worked as a welder in refineries in southern Illinois starting in 1976 and became a supervisor on welding projects about 10 years later, Short said. Exposure to the manganese fumes left Boren with tremors, he said.

Shares of Cleveland-based Lincoln Electric rose 32 cents to $41.13 in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading. Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Technologies rose 82 cents to $33.80 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Charter rose 9 pence to 504 pence in London.

The lawsuit is Boren v. A.O. Smith Corp., No. 00-L-886, in the Circuit Court for Madison County, Illinois.

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