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Lawsuit over beryllium exposure

Lawsuit filed against General Dynamics for beryllium exposure http://www.cullmantimes.com/news/lawsuit-filed-against-general-dynamics-for-beryllium-exposure/article_c8a5fcf4-4e1d-11e7-b725-63d15c9435f1.html   Tiffeny Owens  Jun 10, 2017A local man has filed suit against General Dynamics, alleging the company fired him after he filed a worker’s compensation claim for an incurable disease he alleges he contracted from working there.

Gary Miller is suing his former employer for worker’s compensation benefits and retaliatory discharge after he was terminated from the defense contractor in April, according to a lawsuit filed in Cullman County Circuit Court Tuesday.

Miller alleges he was diagnosed with chronic beryllium disease (CBD) by a Denver, Colorado medical facility General Dynamics sent him to see after blood tests showed he had abnormal levels of the Category 1 carcinogen in his system. After working at the manufacturing facility since June 2012, Miller was terminated April 17, according to the law suit.

 Miller is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Circuit Judge Martha Williams is presiding over the case. The company’s corporate office didn’t immediately return calls for comment Friday afternoon.

General Dynamics, located on Alabama 157, machines and processes beryllium and its alloys for optics and optical assemblies. Beryllium is one-third the weight of aluminum but six times stronger than steel with high thermal stability. It’s used in various industries, such as electronics, aerospace, dental, atomic energy and defense.

In his lawsuit, Miller alleges he developed chronic beryllium disease from working at the plant where he “inhaled beryllium dust and powder over a period of time.” Miller reported his symptoms to the company, and according to his complaint, General Dynamics “acknowledged” he had the disease and paid for some of his medical and pharmacy expenses.

CBD is a slowly progressive respiratory disease characterized by the formation of lung lesions called granulomas, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These granulomas and accompanying fibrosis cause impairment of the lung’s ability to expand fully and to oxygenate the blood.

There is no cure, although symptoms can be treated. It has been estimated that as many as 134,000 current U.S. workers in private industry and government may be exposed to beryllium. The rate of progression from less severe to severe disease can vary widely. An estimated 100 people die from the disease annually.

A new rule under the Obama administration was set to lower workplace exposure to beryllium but could be sidelined by the current administration’s call to roll back occupational regulations, potentially exempting major industries.

OSHA estimated the proposed rule would prevent 96 premature deaths each year and prevent 50 new cases of CBD per year, once the full effects of the rule are realized.

Tiffeny Owens can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 135.

Tiffeny Owens can be reached at towens@cullmantimes.com or at 256-734-2131, ext. 135.

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June 12, 2017 - Posted by | Legal, USA

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