Media Center

US Welding Rod Litigation Fading Fast

Katri Iivonen

04/27/2006

Gasworld

The US welding rod litigation is fading fast and in the recent months, plaintiffs’ counsel has dismissed thousands of their cases.

According to the Welding Rod Litigation Network the whole exercise has been an ill-conceived business venture for plaintiffs’ counsel.

The network’s latest status report said: “Over the last several years, plaintiffs’ attorneys have staged expensive advertising campaigns and screening programs designed to accumulate numerous lawsuits against the welding industry alleging neurological disorders supposedly caused by the manganese in welding fumes. These attorneys have issued many press releases and spoken to financial analysts in an effort to portray the litigation as potentially having substantial adverse consequences for the industry.

“But as the litigation has progressed, it has become abundantly clear that there is little real substance to this litigation.

“In recent months, plaintiffs’ counsel has dismissed thousands of their cases, served discovery responses acknowledging that 40 per cent of their clients were never diagnosed with any neurological condition, and have otherwise admitted that 70 per cent of the allegedly sick claimants have never sought medical treatment. Plaintiffs’ trial record also provides strong indications that their litigation is in trouble: 10 of 11 cases tried to juries have resulted in defense verdicts (the one loss was in pro-plaintiff Madison County, Illinois), and plaintiffs were forced to drop their two hand-picked federal court trial candidates after it was revealed that one had dramatically exaggerated his symptoms and the other lied about his illegal drug use.

“Now, the federal court presiding over almost half of the welding claims pending in the US (the MDL court) has established a case administration plan to re-evaluate all of the pending federal cases. Defendants believe that many more claims will be dismissed following this process.'

According to the network the plaintiff’s bar has seen a sharp decline in the number of pending lawsuits. Over the last ten months, plaintiffs have dismissed thousands of cases (and new filings have decreased as well), resulting in a decline of approximately 25 per cent of welding fume claims pending in state and federal court, and more claims are being dismissed weekly.

The network said: “As plaintiffs are required to begin providing factual support for all their federal court cases, defendants expect that many more will disappear, confirming that the supposed welding litigation mass tort is, in fact, a collection of meritless claims by individuals who either have nothing wrong with them or have the same types of neurological problems that afflict millions of Americans regardless of whether they ever welded.

“The reality is that there is no ‘mass’ in plaintiffs’ counsel’s mass tort litigation.”

 
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