Missouri resident Steve Boren's suit against several welding-rod manufacturers accusing them of causing his Parkinson's disease is now proceeding in Madison County, Illinois. Press coverage hasn't yet mentioned whether Boren has a legitimate reason to be bringing his suit across in a state different than the one he lives. Boren's testified that he knew that he was supposed to use protective equipment, but thought the warnings were just for respiratory diseases, and is claiming that had he been warned about the risk for Parkinson's from welding (a risk that lacks evidence even now), he would've avoided his injury. (Brian Brueggemann, "Welder seeks money after getting disease", Belleville News-Democrat, Nov. 21; Ann Knef, "Medical expert testifies in weld rod trial", Madison County Record, Nov. 8).
Madison County is home to the only jury that has awarded damages in a welding case in the ten cases tried so far. The plaintiffs' bar is already engaging in mass screening in hopes of turning welding litigation into the next asbestos. Seventy percent of the 4500 welding cases before a Cleveland federal judge became involved through mass screenings; only 14% incurred medical expenses before suing; some 40% have previously sued for asbestos or silica exposure and are repeat litigants. In August, MDL Judge Kathleen McDonald O'Malley ruled that she will not preclude plaintiffs' experts on a Daubert motion, however. (Timothy Aeppel, "Plaintiffs in Welding-Fumes Case Win a Skirmish in Federal Court", Wall Street Journal, Jul. 26; Lorraine Woellert, "A Break For The Defense", Business Week, Nov. 7). See also Aug. 22.
In May, the largest epidemiological cohort study done on the issue to date, of nearly 10,000 Danish welders, found welders at no increased risk of developing Parkinson�s disease. (Jon P. Fryzek et al., "A Cohort Study of Parkinson�s Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Disorders in Danish Welders", Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, May 2005). The Welding Rod Information Network has a full list of studies on the subject.