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Mattis v. Carlon Elec. Prods.

ELR Citation: 32 ELR 20766
Nos. No. 01-2246, 295 F.3d 856/(8th Cir., 07/10/2002)

The court approves a district court award of damages to an individual who was diagnosed with reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS) after inhaling cement fumes. The court first holds that the expert testimony offered by the individual was sufficient for a reasonable jury to find that the individual's exposure to organic solvents in the cement was capable of causing RADS and that the exposure to the solvents did, in fact, cause his illness. To prove exposure levels, a plaintiff need not produce a mathematically precise table equating levels of exposure with levels of harm, rather a plaintiff need only make a threshold showing that he or she was exposed to toxic levels known to cause the type of injuries he or she suffered, which was the case here. The court next holds that the individual adequately proved a violation of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA). There was a question of fact for the jury about whether the cement can's warning label met the requirements of the FHSA, and because the evidence about the harmful effects of the cement called into question whether the label's statements about principal hazards, precautionary measures, or instructions for handling were adequate. The label did not make clear that inhalation of the vapors is harmful, state handling instructions, or specify any precautionary measures regarding inhalation of fumes from the cement.

The full text of this decision is available from ELR (11 pp., ELR Order No. L-537).

Counsel for Appellees
Bruce V. Anderson
Anderson Law Office
112 SE Second St., Wagher SD 57380
(605) 384-5970

Counsel for Appellants
James E. Moore
Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith
300 S. Phillips Ave., Ste. 300, Sioux Falls SD 57117
(605) 336-3890