WELDING DEFENDANTS SEEK SANCTIONS IN FEDERAL
WELDING ROD LITIGATION
Defendants Ask Court to Hold Plaintiffs’ Counsel Responsible for Filing False Claims and to Dismiss Thousands of Claims Based on
by Single Screening Doctor
Plaintiff in Next Scheduled MDL Trial Admits to Lying
Cleveland, OH and Washington, DC, December 8, 2005 – Defendants in the welding rod-related federal multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) proceeding pending in United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio, yesterday filed a motion asking the Court to grant sanctions in two pending cases, and to reject thousands of unsupported diagnoses in all other pending cases.
Dewey Morgan, the plaintiff in the next-scheduled MDL trial, admitted last week that he repeatedly had lied about his claims during the course of the litigation. His admissions came after surveillance video revealed Mr. Morgan, who claimed to be completely disabled, engaging in physical activity that he contended his alleged injuries had made impossible, such as getting on and driving a tractor, carrying groceries and doing vigorous yard work.
Just a few weeks earlier, plaintiffs’ counsel advised the Court that they were withdrawing the Landry case, which was to be tried immediately after Morgan. Although plaintiffs’ counsel gave a different explanation, defendants contend that Landry was withdrawn because discovery in that case revealed the claims to be groundless as well. The defendants have asked the Court to sanction plaintiffs’ counsel and order them to pay the fees and costs incurred by defendants in preparing the Morgan and Landry cases for trial.
John Beisner, attorney for the defendants, a group of current and former welding rod manufacturers, stated, “The decisions of plaintiffs’ counsel to proceed with the Morgan and Landry cases despite early and obvious warning signs about the veracity of the plaintiffs’ claims forced both the Court and defendants to waste substantial time and money preparing frivolous cases for trial. Plaintiffs’ counsel should be held responsible for filing claims that they knew, or should have known, were falsely premised.”
In addition, the defendants have asked the Court to dismiss the claims of all plaintiffs who were diagnosed by Dr. Paul Nausieda, a plaintiff-hired physician, unless the plaintiffs present proof that they have obtained confirmation of their diagnosis by a second, independent physician. The vast majority of plaintiffs, including Mr. Morgan and Mr. Landry, were diagnosed by Dr. Nausieda, who conducted the screenings that were designed and funded by a consortium of plaintiffs’ attorneys to gather claimants for litigation. These attorneys ran television and print advertisements advising welders that they could be entitled to monetary awards if they had symptoms ranging from headaches to insomnia; the defendants believe approximately 75 percent of the pending welding fume cases were generated from these screenings.
Beisner continued, “What is before this Court is a true medical marvel: a purported epidemic involving thousands of supposed victims that has been defined, investigated, and fully diagnosed by one lone doctor – paid for by plaintiffs’ lawyers. The fact that two of those diagnoses have been called into question – both in cases hand-picked by plaintiffs’ counsel presumably because they are among the stronger cases in their claims inventory – should ring even more alarm bells. Clearly, there is a serious credibility question regarding Paul Nausieda’s diagnoses. ”
Fact sheets submitted by plaintiffs in the MDL provide further information about the problematic nature of these claims and this litigation. According to these fact sheets, in addition to the fact that close to 75 percent of the plaintiffs attended a plaintiffs’ counsel-sponsored screening, nearly half of the plaintiffs did not claim to have been diagnosed with any specific disease at all, and, like Mr. Landry, less than 20 percent of those who attended a screening sought any subsequent medical treatment for their claimed condition.
Beisner concluded, “It has become clear that a group of attorneys has essentially created a mass tort out of thin air, resting for the most part on one physician’s questionable diagnoses. Fortunately, juries continue to reject these claims. Last week, a jury in Madison County, Illinois joined the overwhelming majority of juries across the country who have rejected these claims by returning a defense verdict in a matter of hours. The welding industry will continue to defend itself vigorously against these suits.”
For additional information about this litigation, or to obtain a copy of the above-referenced defense motion, please go to www.weldinginfonetwork.org.
John Beisner, Esq.
O’Melveny & Myers
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