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Suit alleges that AMD recklessly exposed its employees to toxic substances

Ryan Ruiz, 16, of Austin Texas, shares the same last name with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) CEO Hector Ruiz.  Ryan, sadly, is the victim of a birth defect.  He is missing the lower right part of his arm and had significant cognitive impairment.  The unfortunate irony of his last name comes in that his conditions are allegedly caused by Hector Ruiz's company, AMD.

Ryan's mom, Maria Ruiz, worked in AMD's Fab 14 clean room from 1988 to 2002.  She was exposed to a wide array of toxic chemicals during her employment with AMD, including ethylene glycol monoethyl ether acetate and 2-ethoxyethyl acetate, known to cause birth defects.  During her employment she had to seek medical attention at least twice due to fume inhalation.

Her exposure concerned her when she discovered she was pregnant.  She inquired about health risks with a local doctor at the Austin Regional Clinic, but was told not to worry about it, and to feel free to return to work.  AMD was perfectly happy to take her back, and she worked most of the remaining course of her pregnancy, continuously exposed to chemicals that are known in the medical community to cause birth defects.

The ending of story is the tragic one previously stated -- her son was born missing part of a limb and with brain damage.

Now Maria is taking the fight to the corporation she feels damaged her and her son.  The lawsuit, filed in Travis County District Court, both targets AMD and includes medical malpractice allegations against the doctors at the clinic she went to for medical consultation.  It names a family/occupational health practitioner and an obstetrics and gynecology specialist, George Marking MD and Alinda Cox MD.  These doctors, according the suit, failed to warn Maria about any possible risks of working with the toxic chemicals at her place of employment, during her pregnancy.

The Ruiz vs. AMD Lawsuit has some high power representation in the form of filing attorney Adam S. Ward, a partner in Allison & Ward, LLP and Steven Phillips of Levy Phillips & Konigsberg LLP (New York).  The enlistment of Levy Phillips & Konigsberg LLP draws attention, in particular, because the firm successfully won an undisclosed settlement for IBM clean-room exposure victims in a similar case.

"Like millions of Americans, Maria Ruiz did not realize that 'clean rooms' are designed to keep damaging dust particles from semiconductor wafers during manufacturing, not to protect men and women exposed to a spectrum of hazardous chemicals and fumes," said Steven Phillips of Levy Phillips & Konigsberg LLP, co-counsel in the case.

The representing firm Allison & Ward, LLP has been airing commercial on local TV in Texas seeking people with knowledge of the clean room, for possible testimony.

The suit seeks exemplary damages and includes a five-count petition charging negligence, breach of warranty, fraudulent concealment and misrepresentation.

AMD doesn't really need much more bad news.  With another weak graphics card launch, another losing quarter, debts piling up, and rivals NVIDIA and Intel piling up record profits, AMD has scant room for more negative press or losses.  Thus this suit marks the kind of sad sort of story in which there are no winners.

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clean room statement
By ElFenix on 11/9/2007 11:57:06 AM , Rating: 2
how does someone who works in a clean room not know that a clean room is supposed to keep dust and particles off of the silicon?

RE: clean room statement
By JackBeQuick on 11/9/2007 11:59:54 AM , Rating: 1
Of course, it's Ms. Ruiz's fault her son was born with a well documented defect. How foolish of her and the lawfirm-- you cracked the case.

RE: clean room statement
By Whedonic on 11/9/2007 12:00:44 PM , Rating: 2
I think the point of that statement was to say that sh didn't realize that clean rooms are ONLY to keep out dust and particle, but NOT to protect workers.

RE: clean room statement
By AnotherGuy on 11/9/2007 12:30:07 PM , Rating: 3
I also blame her doctor of telling her its fine to go back to work while pregnant... I mean he musta been clueless of what she was dealing with... assuming she explained him exactly where she works at..

RE: clean room statement
By mindless1 on 11/10/2007 4:10:28 PM , Rating: 2
No, a doctor only diagnoses illness, is not a "life consultant".

AMD should not expose ANYONE to ANYTHING that causes birth defects, it has nothing to do with being pregnant nor observing illness after already exposed.

I don't want Intel to be the only player in the CPU manufacturing biz worth considering but if this is how AMD runs their ship, I want that ship sunk. EVERY last human being has a right to work in a safe environment, and I mean totally free of hazardous chemical pollution to themselves. I do accept this may mean some products cost more and other products won't exist at all if they can't work around the obstacles.

RE: clean room statement
By Master Kenobi on 11/9/2007 12:31:09 PM , Rating: 2
People are stupid. End of story. I think she should sue her original doctor for saying those chemicals are ok, not AMD.

RE: clean room statement
By kinnoch on 11/9/2007 12:40:06 PM , Rating: 3
Had she not asked a doctor about it should AMD still have let her work? I think it would be AMD's responsibility to let her know she shouldn't be working in that environment while pregnant.

RE: clean room statement
By mars777 on 11/9/07, Rating: 0
RE: clean room statement
By crystal clear on 11/10/2007 6:41:10 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry you are wrong in your conclusions-

According to the petition, Ruiz alleged that before she became pregnant, she sought medical attention on two different occasions for symptoms she said were related to exposure to the chemicals used in the clean room. AMD allegedly told Ruiz that her exposure was within acceptable limits and that the chemicals were safe

The mother and son are also suing two physicians and a regional medical association for never warning her to avoid exposure to the chemicals, both before and after she became pregnant.

In addition, the lawsuit includes medical malpractice allegations against a health practitioner and an obstetrics and gynaecology specialist at Austin Regional Clinic,
, an AMD contractor.

Plus AMD & the rest are targeted by a top law firm with experience in this area/field that took on IBM-just remember.
The enlistment of Levy Phillips & Konigsberg LLP draws attention, in particular, because the firm successfully won an undisclosed settlement for IBM clean-room exposure victims in a similar case.

Not that simple as it sounds.

If AMD proven guilty by the COURT, that sets a precedent for others (current & former employees) to do the same (to sue AMD & claim their damages in the millions)

If all current & ex employees start suing AMD,(similar reason or other reasons-infertility/aborted pregancy/a long list of medical issues. then AMD is in very SERIOUS trouble

IF you ever held a senior management position of some quote then you would not be commenting this way.

Ever had an experience of a top law firm taking you to court

Plus the consequences facing those shareholders at the annual general meetings ????

RE: clean room statement
By Misty Dingos on 11/9/07, Rating: 0
RE: clean room statement
By zombiexl on 11/9/2007 1:40:57 PM , Rating: 2
I know of several companies that will not allow pregnant women to even enter production areas.

Really, so when do the lawsuits for sexual discrimination begin?

AMD is responsible for informing workers of the dangers of their jobs not the other way around. AMD is also responsible for providing all necessary safety equipment to the workers they employ free of charge. It seems that they failed in both tasks. It is that simple.

So now you work at AMD and know what they did and didn't do?

Further if they did cause this women’s child to be born with birth defects they are morally responsible also. The days are long past that workers are disposable pawns of the companies they work for.

Morally and legally are 2 different things. We are all pawns. Most employee's are employed at will and can e terminated at any time.

I would argue that she knowingly put her unborn child in harms way. This makes her morally responsible.

RE: clean room statement
By Misty Dingos on 11/9/2007 4:14:32 PM , Rating: 2
I will help you out here because I am kind hearted and nice.

Sexual discrimantion does not come into play. They are not being discriminated against because they are pregnant the company has the requirement to protect the worker from harm. This includes the protection of the unborn child. If she had been fired for being pregnant or had her pay lowered because they assigned her to another task while she was pregnant, then she could file an EEOC complaint. But I would think that a company as large as AMD would have a well thought out pregnant worker policy.

As far as what goes on at AMD well I don't have to work at AMD to tell you what they should be doing in this regard. All companies employing workers have to inform you of the risks of your job. Including the risks to pregnant workers. This is from OSHAs web site.
All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and MSDSs for their exposed workers, and train them to handle the chemicals appropriately.
This link takes you to OSHAs website and what the requirements are in general terms for PPE. Personal Protective Equipment.

I don't know where you work but I work in the pharma sector. I have never been charged for a glove, a set of safety glasses, and I can spend up to $250 dollars of company money a year in safety shoes. I have gone through more disposable smocks than I care to think about. And with the number of shoe covers used around here I think I should sell them.

It is always in the best interest of the company to take good care of its workers. IF AMD isn't then they deserve what they get.

I said morally responsible not because I think that the guys at AMD are bastard covered bastards but because when you hire anyone to do something for you that is hazardous and you don't do what you should do to protect them to the best of your ability then you have failed as any kind of human being.

As far as legally goes I think AMD is going to go down in flames on this one.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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