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Welding and Product Liability

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Today's WSJ [subscription required] has a nice piece on the mini-tort-war currently being raged in the welding industry.

Two issues are involved here:

1) Scientific research has been at odds over whether exposure to manganese in welding rods can lead to neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease, which diminishes movement and speech. And

2) whether or not manganese can lead to Parkinsons or a similar disease, is welding rods' manufacturers' warning that their rods are potentially hazardous to health sufficient to protect against such claims?

3800 federal "welding cases" have been consolidated before a District judge in Cleveland, and the first decision, involving Ernesto Solis, a 57-year-old former welder who has tremors in his right hand, just came down in the defense's favor. The jury found that the warning on the welding rods was adequate -- this was the best possible outcome for the defense. State suits are also pending, however, and not all warnings were identical, so it is not clear yet that the outcome in the Solis case is a harbinger for the subsequent cases.

As I've pointed out on many occasions, this and many other products issues are really an end run around the prohibition to sue employers in workers' comp. cases. Were it not for workers' compensation, our "crisis" might be about employers instead of manufacturers.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.