Montana Welder Files Suit Claiming Cancer Caused By Welding Fumes

My last column warned that welding manufacturers and distributors would likely see an increase in litigation claiming injuries relating to other components of welding fumes—with chromium being a particularly likely target. The warning proved timely. Shortly after the last issue was printed, a new suit was filed in Montana state court by a welder claiming to have developed cancer as a result of exposure to welding fumes. Bruce Adams, a permanently disabled 42-year-old former automotive radiator welder, claims that he contracted terminal lung cancer as a result of exposure to “carcinogens” contained in welding consumables. Hobart Brothers is named a defendant, along with several automotive radiator manufacturers and a welding products distributor (and GAWDA member). The Adams lawsuit, filed in Cascade County, Montana, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages under Montana’s strict liability law.

The complaint does not specifically identify any particular agent that allegedly caused Adams’ lung cancer. However, discovery served by the plaintiff at the time the lawsuit was filed specifically focuses on products containing chromium. As in the Sisk case, chromium is expected to feature prominently in the Adams case. The insurance carrier for the distributor is defending the case. Stay tuned.

Baxter Suit Dismissed

On a more positive note, the last active case in the Welding Fumes Product Liability MDL pending in the Northern District of Ohio has been dismissed. James Baxter, who had initially refused to participate in the global MDL settlement, agreed to dismiss his suit after Judge Zouhary denied his request to continue trial. In exchange for his agreement to dismiss his suit, Baxter was allowed to file a late election and participate in the global settlement, despite the fact that the deadline for filing claims with the referee had passed. With the Baxter dismissal, all active cases in the MDL have been dismissed. Several state cases remain, but none are scheduled or expected to go to trial.

(Disclaimer: The information provided in this column is a service provided by GAWDA for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Consult your lawyer regarding the legal rights, liabilities and laws applicable to you and your business.)

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Michael Degan Meet the Author
Michael Degan, Esq., is GAWDA’s joint defense fund coordinating counsel for welding fume litigation and a partner with the law firm of Husch Blackwell LLP. Members can reach him at 402-964-5000 and mike.degan@huschblackwell.com.