On Dec. 5, 2007, Lincoln Electric Holdings and four other companies were ordered to pay $20.5 million in a case involving a welder sickened by fumes he inhaled on the job, marking the first time a welder has won such a lawsuit since 2003.
A federal jury in Cleveland deliberated for more than a week before determining that Lincoln Electric Holdings, along with Hobart Brother Co., ESAB Group, TDY Industries and BOC Group, were negligent by not warning Jeff Tamraz of their products' manganese toxicity. The jury awarded Tamraz $17.5 million and also ordered that an additional $3 million be paid in damages to his wife for loss of consortium.
After working as a welder and iron worker in San Francisco for 26 years, Tamraz, in 2001, began experiencing neurological symptoms that progressed until he became permanently disabled by 2004. Doctors diagnosed his condition as manganese-induced Parkinsonism, a physically and mentally debilitating disease that causes tremors.
John Climaco, an attorney who represented Tamraz, told Occupational Hazards these companies should have alerted his client of the hazards “by putting out an adequate warning that manganese in welding fumes causes brain damage.”
Climaco hopes the verdict will “finally cause some manufacturers to acknowledge manganese in welding fumes can cause neurological damage and warn accordingly.”
Welding companies, however, state that the amount of manganese in the fumes is not significant enough to cause harm. The defendants in this case maintain that there is no evidence proving the welding fumes caused Tamraz's disorder, and are appealing the verdict.