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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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Who's fault?
By Scorpion on 11/9/2007 12:04:15 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
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.


Sounds like it was just another piss poor doctors advice which is just as responsible or more than AMD. I can't image any caring doctor would have told her to continue working when there is a risk of being exposed to dangerous chemicals known to cause birth defects.




RE: Who's fault?
By FITCamaro on 11/9/2007 12:23:22 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah to me it sounds like she needs to sue the doctor she saw. To me if you're pregnant, you shouldn't take any risks. Especially not with freakin toxic chemicals.

You get maternity leave. Use it. If she had brought the issue up with her supervisor, I'm sure they'd have been happy to accommodate her due to the risk of a lawsuit such as this.

This is just another lawsuit trying to shift blame.


RE: Who's fault?
By OrSin on 11/9/2007 12:54:40 PM , Rating: 2
2 things.
First did she know what she was exposed to. So even if she told the doctor what she thought was going on, it does not mean the doctor had the real picture.
Second did AMD even know at the time the affects what she was exposed to. That doesn't mean they are not to blame for what happened, but it does mean they have some type of distance. 16 years of studies might find rubber in shoes causes cancer.


RE: Who's fault?
By LogicallyGenius on 11/10/2007 12:14:44 AM , Rating: 2
Its responsibility of AMD to consult doctors and find out if its safe in case of exposing THEIR employees to dangerous chemicals.


RE: Who's fault?
By cochy on 11/9/2007 1:10:35 PM , Rating: 2
It's not shifting blame. She's suing the doctor as well. I don't know of any specifics on the related IBM case, but there might be precedence here. I'm sure this law firm knows what they are doing here, this isn't some hacked together complaint. AMD is probably gonna have another write off coming.


RE: Who's fault?
By opterondo on 11/9/07, Rating: -1
RE: Who's fault?
By Parhel on 11/9/2007 11:53:50 PM , Rating: 5
Yeah, kind of like when people make their whole post bold.


RE: Who's fault?
By leexgx on 11/10/2007 6:08:18 AM , Rating: 1
lol rated down


RE: Who's fault?
By masher2 (blog) on 11/9/07, Rating: -1
RE: Who's fault?
By jtemplin on 11/9/2007 3:04:03 PM , Rating: 3
Are all chemicals teratogenic in a large enough dose? Dose dependency is a fairly fundamental tenet of toxicology.

Oral LD50 of Tetrahydrocannabinol (active ingredient found in Cannabis): 1270 mg/kg in male rats, 730 mg/kg in female rats.
Oral LD50 of Nicotine: 50 mg/kg in rats.
Cyanide LD50: 5-10mg/kg in rats.

They will all kill you (ok the THC might be nigh impossible) but the point is: dose is EVERYTHING. So to dismiss his concerns (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handwaving) by saying all chemicals have the capacity to be toxic is a bit disingenuous IMO.

Actually who cares what the dose is...FITCamaro is saying that you can't be cautious enough carrying an unborn child. Certainly this is sound advice?


RE: Who's fault?
By masher2 (blog) on 11/9/2007 3:18:48 PM , Rating: 2
> "but the point is: dose is EVERYTHING"

That was exactly my point. Every pregnany woman in the world has been exposed to at least some level of toxic chemicals. Was this woman exposed to a dose high enough to actually be dangerous? We don't know that at all...and I suspect neither she nor her attorney knows either.


RE: Who's fault?
By FITCamaro on 11/11/2007 7:05:31 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Actually who cares what the dose is...FITCamaro is saying that you can't be cautious enough carrying an unborn child. Certainly this is sound advice?


I'm glad someone agrees.


RE: Who's fault?
By opterondo on 11/9/2007 11:10:42 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, chemicals emit vapors which are very nasty and require protective equipment. But the odds that proper procedure were followed by her are anyone's guess. It makes a world of difference how or whether she followed procedure when handling and working with powerful toxic substances.


RE: Who's fault?
By Justin Case on 11/10/2007 2:29:46 PM , Rating: 2
So you're saying that, in a large enough dose, H2O is toxic? What exactly are "chemicals"? Everything is a "chemical".


RE: Who's fault?
By maverick85wd on 11/10/2007 4:58:21 PM , Rating: 3
actually, water IS toxic if you drink too much. Have you never heard of water intoxication? I've heard of ecstasy users experiencing this while "rolling" from drinking water to keep their body temperature down... and overdoing it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_intoxication


RE: Who's fault?
By Justin Case on 11/10/2007 7:13:03 PM , Rating: 3
Water intoxication (hyponatremia) is not caused by the water itself, it's caused by the body not being able to replace its electrolytes (ie, salt). As long as you consume enough salts to compensate the ones you are losing through your urine, sweat, etc., you can pretty much drink all the water you want.


RE: Who's fault?
By Orbs on 11/9/2007 1:51:57 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
You get maternity leave. Use it. If she had brought the issue up with her supervisor, I'm sure they'd have been happy to accommodate her due to the risk of a lawsuit such as this.


Maternity leave does not cover 9 months before a child is born plus time after birth. In the US, I think it's 3 months (I believe in Canada, it's 1 year, but not all paid).

I don't know how you can speculate that her supervisor would have the forsight to consider a law suit due to birth defect if she asked to more than triple her maternity leave.

The real problems are:
1. Her doctor either gave her poor guidance.
2. Her doctor didn't know the details of what chemicals she was being exposed to.
3. There was no previously-known link between the chemicals she encountered and birth defects.

I don't see how AMD is at fault at all, unless of course AMD had knowledge of the effects of their clean rooms and specifically chose not to inform their employees. That is something that could likely lead to a law suit and I'm sure if they were aware of the dangers (assuming they exist), they would have done so.


RE: Who's fault?
By GreenEnvt on 11/9/2007 2:24:24 PM , Rating: 2
Actually in Canada it is 1 year maternity leave, paid at 60 or 66% of your normal income, and guarenteed job back after.
There are talks on to increase the guarenteed job back to 2 years, but not the pay.


RE: Who's fault?
By opterondo on 11/9/2007 11:17:21 PM , Rating: 2
More like her own fault .. common sense says not to drink, smoke, jump on a trampoline, or handle toxic chemicals when your pregnant.

-- It's amazing what happens when people take responsibility for their actions .. they look stupid.


The doctor is not her occupational health consultant nor a chemist.

If AMD provided safety equipment and she she didn't use it properly it's her own fault.


RE: Who's fault?
By crystal clear on 11/10/2007 12:39:03 AM , Rating: 2
It easy to blast off on your keyboard-but with all due respect to you a little bit of reading & research on other websites helps.

So here is an example of that (related to the topic)-

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.


http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2007/11/09/maria_...

Point to note- an AMD contractor.


RE: Who's fault?
By crystal clear on 11/10/2007 3:25:52 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If AMD provided safety equipment and she she didn't use it properly it's her own fault.


Thank Gd you are not a lawyer for AMD.

AMD as an employer has to enforce all those safety rules/regulations & practises,for the benefit of their employees & for itself(AMD).

Its the employers responsibilities to enforce the above rules/regulations/practises-
- all those employees not adhering to the above are warned then later FIRED from their jobs.

Not so simple as you make it sound-you got to have SENIOR managerial experience to know what I am talking.

You have shift supervisors/managers etc who have to ensure all safety practises are adhered to.
Those employees not following the rules are thrown out of those clean rooms.


RE: Who's fault?
By clovell on 11/9/2007 4:45:57 PM , Rating: 3
I disagree. Sure she gets maternity leave - but probably only six weeks, not the standard 40 weeks it takes from conception to birth. Most mothers work up until they go into labor and use their maternity leave to bond with their child / recover from labor / surgery.

I also think her supervisor should have enough brains to know that she should be pulled out of a potentially hazardous environment if she's pregnant.


RE: Who's fault?
By A5un on 11/9/2007 5:53:23 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I also think her supervisor should have enough brains to know that she should be pulled out of a potentially hazardous environment if she's pregnant.


Exactly! I think AMD should be harshly punished for this. The question of whether AMD knows that these chemical causes cancer is irrelevant. The fact that they didn't care enough about their employees to find out is negligence on their part. And AMD should be punished, though no form of punishment can ever undo the harm that's already done. Same goes for the doctor, too, if he was made aware of the types of chemicals she was exposed to.


RE: Who's fault?
By opterondo on 11/9/2007 11:23:56 PM , Rating: 3
Sounds like that was her responsibility to do so not the supervisor - should he follow her into the bathroom and remind her to wash her hands? And the doctor had nothing to so with her actions or her work environment. The complexity of the material never leaves the realm of common sense.


RE: Who's fault?
By clovell on 11/12/2007 2:49:27 PM , Rating: 1
> Sounds like that was her responsibility to do so not the supervisor - should he follow her into the bathroom and remind her to wash her hands?

Sure it was, but the supervisor is also responsible for safety in his lab. He should be aware of the dangers those chemicals pose.

> And the doctor had nothing to so with her actions or her work environment.

Most women listen to their OB. I mean - these people spend over a decade training in their profession.


RE: Who's fault?
By raskren on 11/10/2007 2:54:48 PM , Rating: 3
Most employers on offer _paid_ maternity leave for 4-6 weeks _after_ you give birth.

I'd imagine that AMD has an unpaid leave policy for longer absences but where is a pregnant girl supposed to earn income and maintain medical benefits from? Childbirth is friggin expensive.


RE: Who's fault?
By clovell on 11/12/2007 2:57:41 PM , Rating: 1
> but where is a pregnant girl supposed to earn income and maintain medical benefits from?

Her husband (PC Version: the father).


RE: Who's fault?
By RW MD on 11/9/2007 12:31:32 PM , Rating: 5
I would urge that people not rush to judgment in this case. I am radiologist and computer enthusiast. My practice includes obstetrical ultrasound and frequently issues relating to pregnancy and risk of medical treatments comes up. Most commonly the cases I see involve exposure to radiation but other risks include intravenous contrast agents in pregnant women.

The problem here is the details. An observed cause of a missing limb (or portion) at birth is an amniotic band syndrome. This is where the inner lining of the gestational sac develops a perforation and a limb becomes trapped and strangulated in the lining. The mechanism is similar to a turniquet being applied to the arm.

The problem is causality. Why should an inhaled chemical lead to a rare mechanically caused abnormality at birth?

While medicine does not have all the answers, a juror should be presented with reasonable testimony as to what makes scientific sense. We have pretty good ideas about defects due to radiation and drugs. Specific kinds of deformities such as mental retardation, cleft lip, cleft palate, heart defects, spina bifida, etc. come to mind. It is not immediately clear to me the connection to amniotic band syndrome.

Expert testimony would need to be offered about how a chemical would spare the other limbs and cause amputation of one.

Again, regardless of an employer's choices about exposure during pregnancy, the connection to cause and effect really needs to be made and not assumed because of a bad outcome.

Confounding exposures need to be ruled out. Does the patient smoke? Does she live in a community with higher than average birth defects?

One should be very sympathetic to a mother whose child has a birth defect, but the case should be decided carefully by a neutral party.

As a physician, I would prefer a well-informed neutral party. Courts allow one expert for the plaintiff and another for the defense. This allows an extreme viewpoint to be presented as if it were the opinion of 50% of the medical community even if almost all of the medical community shares one view.

RW MD


RE: Who's fault?
By FITCamaro on 11/9/07, Rating: 0
RE: Who's fault?
By RW MD on 11/9/2007 12:38:08 PM , Rating: 3
The brain damaged portion of the child's birth defects is something that may be more easily connected to a chemical exposure. The point I make is the same...

Avoid rush to judgement. Already people are casting blame.

My own opinion is that people should be as careful as possible during pregnancy because of the unknown. I would want to take as few chances as possible. That still doesn't change the fact that details matter a lot in these cases.


RE: Who's fault?
By MGSsancho on 11/9/2007 4:12:34 PM , Rating: 2
could she not have asked to obtain a copy of the material safety datasheet? your a doc so you know what a MSDS is. but to those who dont, its a stack of papers 3" thick or so that have to be easily available to workers. so they can know everything they might ever want to know about any possible substance they might encounter at the work place. she could have asked for qa copy and ask her doctor to translate it if she had any questions.

but i agree with you, its too early to tell what has happened


RE: Who's fault?
By Parhel on 11/9/2007 4:20:44 PM , Rating: 2
That doesn't make any sense. What MSDS should she have asked for? One for each and every substance in her workplace? That isn't the purpose of an MSDS and it isn't even feasible.

Whether or not AMD is at fault, you can't blame an employee for not reading the MSDS for all of the substances they come into contact with. Even the most anti-lawsuit person on this board would have to admit that that is the job of the employer, not the employee.


RE: Who's fault?
By Andvary on 11/9/2007 6:22:58 PM , Rating: 2
No, that's precisely the purpose of MSDS. Every employer is required by law to keep an available database of MSDSs on every chemical in use. Every worker has the right to access this database. Actually, our safety guys prefer to think that every worker is "required by law" to read through all relevant MSDSs before working. Sick bastards. I've never seen anyone using these sheets though. I'm certainly not going to waste my time on reading this BS as it's mostly useless anyway. :)

So no, she could check that stuff, and it was made readily available to her. And I bet she was required to do so by local safety regulations. And she should have, her being a pregnant woman. It's not a reserch lab, she couldn't be exposed to too many chemicals. Actually, my personal opinion is that MSDSs exist exclusively to make sure employers don't have to answer to legal threats like this.

I should also say that her doctor is either irresponsible or an idiot. Or both. But I won't say that, because those two mentioned chemicals, as far as I know, are not known to cause that particular birth defect described in the article.
I do sympathize her, but hers is a lost cause as her problems have nothing to do with AMD.


RE: Who's fault?
By ira176 on 11/11/2007 1:02:41 AM , Rating: 2
I recall when I worked at RPS (now owned by FedEx)we had specific training about MSDS. Any package we received that had a particular hazardous or potentially dangerous substance had a label on the package. We were required to remove one of the three or four tags which listed the substance and place them in an envelope for the truck driver. We were also informed of the MSDS book about hazardous materials, and how to use it. If a package handling company goes to lengths to inform its employees of potential hazards, I'm sure AMD would do just the same.


RE: Who's fault?
By HighWing on 11/9/2007 5:26:20 PM , Rating: 1
While I do agree with you that perhaps a more in depth study of what caused the birth defects could be useful in placing true blame. I still have to argue with you that regardless of what really caused the birth defects it still does not change the fact that she was pregnant and working with chemicals that are known to cause birth defects. And for that reason her doctor AND supervisor should have known better to inform her of the risks. And blame should rightly fall on both if they failed to do so.


RE: Who's fault?
By masher2 (blog) on 11/9/2007 5:58:17 PM , Rating: 3
> "it still does not change the fact that she was pregnant and working with chemicals that are known to cause birth defects"

As is every other woman in the world whose ever been pregnant. Teratologic chemicals are everyhere, almost always in doses small enough to be totally harmless. What dose did she receive at AMD? The word "exposed" is suspiciously devoid of any hard facts.


RE: Who's fault?
By opterondo on 11/9/2007 11:31:26 PM , Rating: 2
This is a little different, in a FAB you stand in front of a clensing basin full of SOLVENT washing die plates all day .. I mean get real.

One ounce of this stuff can kill you it's hardcore. This isn't a little fungi on the wallboard of your house.

Thats why they pay you the big bucks to do it.


RE: Who's fault?
By Lord 666 on 11/9/2007 7:40:13 PM , Rating: 3
Doc,

There are many other causes for missing limbs; coupled with the cognitive defects and brain damage it would point to another cause than amniotic band syndrome.

The problem here is what appears to be AMD's lack of effective policy or protocal when their clean room employees become pregnant. Because of the chemicals at use, the employee should be transfered to a safer environment.

Secondly, her treating doctor should have proceeded with caution and recommended to request a different working environment... especially since she had issues with fumes two other times.

Why risk the unnecessary exposure to chemicals where their MSDS sheets specifically state "OVEREXPOSURE MAY CAUSE EFFECTS IN HUMANS; TESTIS
DAMAGE/MALE & FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE FERTILITY" and "This product contains the following ingredients for which the State of California has found to
cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm"

The one view shared by medicine should be one of caution, because it does not have all of the answers.

http://www.pharmco-prod.com/pages/MSDS/ethylene_gl...

http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9923950


RE: Who's fault?
By crystal clear on 11/10/2007 12:53:15 AM , Rating: 2
I think this is the best reposne/comment yet till now-

Its balanced/well researched/practical/responsible- deserves to get the GREEN rating 6


RE: Who's fault?
By crystal clear on 11/10/2007 12:57:11 AM , Rating: 2
I relate to this post-
RE: Who's fault?
By RW MD on 11/9/07, Rating: 5
By RW MD on 11/9/2007 12:31:32 PM , Rating: 5


RE: Who's fault?
By augiem on 11/9/2007 1:07:00 PM , Rating: 1
I can't believe all the people on here so willing to shift the blame from the company that exposed her to chemicals to the doctor who simply gave her advice.

Which party logically has more knowledge of and is aware of exposure to random toxins used in the chip making process? Oh, a random doctor?! I think not! Oh wait, AMD is not responsible because all us tech geeks feel sorry for the dying underdog that once was, so let's just blame the doctor.

Hmm... Let's say I'm a construction worker. I ask my doctor, is it safe for me to work in this construction site? Afterall, I MIGHT get hurt. He says, in all likelyhood you'll be ok. So I go to work and I fall and break my neck because the construction site was left unsafe. Now, if I must sue, who should I sue? I guess by everyone here's logic, the doctor because he failed to warn me about what MIGHT happen if the site was left unsafe.

Look, if there are toxic chemicals poisoning people at AMD's (and other manuf.) plants, THAT'S REALLY BAD and should be remedied, even if law suits have to be the driving force! If the job description said you will definitely get cancer if you work here, NOBODY would work there. We don't need more technology martyrs. Safety standards need to be so strong that THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN.

IT IS NOT THE DOCTOR'S FAULT. She was exposed to dangerous chemicals at AMD, not the doctor's office. If her job went as expected, she would NOT have been poisoned by the chemicals she works with. It's utterly rediculous to expect doctors to be prognosticators. I'm sure the doctor assumed AMD's environment was more controlled with regards to safety than it actually was. But should every doctor simply take the most paranoid response and just tell everyone to stay in bed because EVERYTHING IS DANGEROUS AND CARRIES RISK?

With all that said, ultimately, it was her OWN CHOICE to work at that lab with toxic chemicals, to work while pregnant, and to have a baby. She made all the decisions. While AMD or its employees might have acidentally exposed her to the chemicals by some kind of error, it's really her fault and God's.


RE: Who's fault?
By masher2 (blog) on 11/9/2007 1:24:31 PM , Rating: 2
> "She was exposed to dangerous chemicals at AMD"

Why the rush to judgement? The extreme willingness to comdemn? Frankly, this smells like another ambulance-chasing lawsuit to me, attempting to connect an unrelated birth defect to someone with deep pockets. I seriously doubt AMD is exposing workers to dangerous levels of toxins.


RE: Who's fault?
By Parhel on 11/9/07, Rating: -1
RE: Who's fault?
By masher2 (blog) on 11/9/2007 2:15:45 PM , Rating: 5
> "That's an very callous comment considering that we're talking about a woman's baby being born with major birth defects."

This is the attitude that allows ambulance-chasing attorney's to exploit our justice system. They know if they show a picture of a deformed baby to a jury of 12 people like yourself, you'll have an emotional response, not a rational one. Your reaction will be to seek retribution...and the natural target will be the large, evil, rich corporation that employed her. Regardless of whether or not that corporation is actually guilty of anything.

> "No woman I've ever met would trade any amount of money for her childrens' health."

You haven't met any of the women arrested for selling their children for money then. But that's beside the point. No one is suggesting she intentionally harmed her child. We're suggesting she's attempting to profit from that harm after the fact. (16 years after the fact, actually).


RE: Who's fault?
By Oregonian2 on 11/9/2007 2:16:41 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, I can see why she would very much like to have somebody else made to take the blame, and I can see why she'd want a lot of money to take care of her child.

However, remember that town where the entire town was bought out after a lawsuit because of a serious medical problem that they thought caused by some pollution of some sort? Really super-megabucks. Now the situation with the people there was sincerely very bad and sad. However, the percentage of folk with the problem there was the same percentage that occurs in the entire country. They won because of compassion for those affected -- and those found guilty were only that because they were nearby and handy <lawyer comment deleted>.

If it were true that these kind of defects ONLY happen by women working in semiconductor cleanrooms, things would be clear. But if they also happen to people who don't then it may just be bad luck for AMD that she happened to be working there rather than at KFC where the secret special 11 spices could be blamed.

I'm overstating my point somewhat, but if AMD did in fact do something nasty, by all means string'm up and leave'm out to dry. But it also may be that they just happened to be the employer of someone who had a terrible thing happen to her.


RE: Who's fault?
By augiem on 11/9/2007 9:14:14 PM , Rating: 2
Well, that's true. I shouldn't have said she WAS exposed at AMD, but she COULD have been. But regardless, my point was - it is NOT the doctor's fault.

I don't know what goes on in AMD's chip plant and I don't know what happened. All I know is it's silly to say it's the doctor's fault.


RE: Who's fault?
By opterondo on 11/9/2007 11:36:25 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt she was exposed on AMDs part .. full body ventilated gear has been the norm in fabs for 30 years if she even got high from it she wasn't following procedure and it's her own fault. Not to mention she already knew she was exposed to fumes in the past; that was where she should have hung it up as this stuff isn't maple syrup.


RE: Who's fault?
By codeThug on 11/9/2007 9:59:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I seriously doubt AMD is exposing workers to dangerous levels of toxins.


That is a fact.

During the alleged time of exposure, I knew most of the Environmental/Health&Safety people. I wrote their MSDS image retrieval and environmental reporting system. The EHS folks at AMD take this stuff very seriously.

And why did she wait 16 years to complain about this?

<echoes of John Edwards here>


RE: Who's fault?
By zombiexl on 11/9/2007 1:30:11 PM , Rating: 2
You completely missed the fact that she was nervous about it.

If she had a reason to believe she was putting her pregnancy at risk and still did it then she has to take (at least) a large part of the blame.

The facts are not clear.
If it is a problem at AMD, have they had any other workers who's children were born with similar birth defects?
Why would a doctor OK her to go back to work if she truely explained her fears?
Are we sure she is clean in all this? Maybe she likes to inhale chemicals to get high..

The fact is we dont know the answer to any of these. We cant judge anyone on this without proper evidence or answers.


RE: Who's fault?
By Murst on 11/9/2007 2:27:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You completely missed the fact that she was nervous about it.

I assume you've never had children.

I have yet to see a woman not nervous about nearly everything while they're pregnant.
quote:
Why would a doctor OK her to go back to work if she truely explained her fears?

Because doctors go through this with every pregnancy. There just wasn't anything there that would give him reason to be alarmed. If doctors weren't there to reassure pregnant women that the world is safe, pregnant women would probably lock themselves in a room for 9 months because of fear of what may happen.


RE: Who's fault?
By Alexstarfire on 11/9/2007 1:39:39 PM , Rating: 1
You're probably the same guy that buys stuff at Walmart aren't you? Sure, this is bad, don't get me wrong on that. The things is this, how many clean room employees have had babies during AMDs entire career. My guess is that it's quite a few, but I'll never know. Birth defects suck and no one would argue against that. The thing is this, how do we know that this birth defect was caused by exposure to... whatever... was in the clean room. There are a lot of household chemicals that can cause birth defects that people use EVERY DAY. I think that if employees are exposed to toxic chemicals that AT THE MINIMUM they should be notified of that fact. In reality they should very well do everything they can to prevent exposure to these chemicals to begin with.

You have to realize that while this ONE case, perhaps a couple more, are very bad in their own right, this is not the worst thing I've heard or seen. Have you guys watched the documentary that they have for Walmart. I'm not sure if I'd really call it a documentary, but they show the conditions of Walmart employees in different countries and all the bad stuff that they do in the US. It's a hell of a lot worse for those people than it is for this ONE woman. Walmart violates safety laws nearly EVERYWHERE, including storage of some toxic chemicals. They've left fertilizer and such out in the open for it to run off into storm drains and get into the local water supply. That affects a hell of a lot more people than AMD ever could and that's not the only thing Walmart has done wrong. I have to say that if you haven't seen the documentary that you should go see it. After watching it I can't even walk into a Walmart anymore, let alone buy anything they sell.

I think that AMD should be sued, but probably not the doctor. I mean, unless the lady and the doctor knew EXACTLY what she was exposed to then there isn't really a case against the doctor. He seems like he was just unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.


RE: Who's fault?
By masher2 (blog) on 11/9/2007 2:49:52 PM , Rating: 5
> "There are a lot of household chemicals that can cause birth defects that people use EVERY DAY"

Ordinary laundry bleach, chlorinated drinking water, common aspirin, alchohol, tobacco, cocaine, codeine, many common antibiotics, most household insecticides, carbon monoxide (from auto exhaust or poorly ventilated home heating systems/water heaters), and about a million other compounds are all known to cause birth defects.

I'm betting this woman was exposed to several from the above list alone.


RE: Who's fault?
By clovell on 11/12/2007 3:09:34 PM , Rating: 1
No, it's the doctor's fault, too (if there is fault here...) The doctor is a specialist - s/he spent 10+ years studying obstretrics, and should know what chemicals pose risks, or at the very least, be able to check those chemicals the woman worked with.

The first thing a woman is usually given after confirming a pregnancy with a doctor is a list of stuff that can harm the baby. The doctor's advice, her supervisor lack of protest, and her own evaluation of their respective truth kept her working in this environment - if the environment caused the birth defect, all parties bear responsibility.


RE: Who's fault?
By junkdubious on 11/9/2007 1:49:36 PM , Rating: 1
AMD is totally screwed. OSHA is pretty clear on substances on the work place. Accidents involving these substance MUST be reported within 48 hours. Full disclosure of all chemicals used are also mandated in MSDS and MSDS training. AMD is responsible for training her, properly equipping her and notifying her for use and exposure to AMD substances. They are on the hook for a lot.


RE: Who's fault?
By masher2 (blog) on 11/9/2007 2:16:23 PM , Rating: 2
And how do you know AMD didn't do all those things?


RE: Who's fault?
By junkdubious on 11/9/2007 3:09:25 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe they did. Maybe they didn't. The point is they must prove it. They are responsible for that.


RE: Who's fault?
By Parhel on 11/9/2007 3:13:05 PM , Rating: 2
It seems you made up your mind that all medical related lawsuits are frivolous.


RE: Who's fault?
By masher2 (blog) on 11/9/2007 3:32:52 PM , Rating: 2
Rather, it sounds like several other posters are willing to utterly believe in AMD's guilt, based on one accusation and almost no facts.

Do I know for a fact that this suit is frivolous? No, of course not. But it smells fishy right from the start. First of all, there's the 16-year duration from the birth to the filiing of the suit. Secondly, there's the fact that partial-limb defects are rarely caused by chemical exposure. Third, there's the fact that AMD has been in operation continuously since that time, without anyone else reporting OSHA violations or harm from chemical exposures.

Fourth, the woman has failed to (so far, at least) bring any real evidence to the table, other than the fact she was exposed to an unknown dose of a very commonly used solvent. And fifth, there's the fact that chemical-exposure birth defect suits are a notoriously abused class of "sympathy" torts, especially when filed against deep-pocket defendants.

Personally, I'll let the jury decide. But I will say this fish seems to be stinking from the head.


RE: Who's fault?
By Parhel on 11/9/2007 4:29:11 PM , Rating: 1
If, hypothetically, AMD was very clearly using chemicals that they knew would cause birth defects in pregnant women, and they took no steps to notify the employee that they were in harm's way, would you still call this "ambulance chasing?"

The town I grew up in had a local company who dumped toxic waste behind their building. I saw it with my own eyes nearly every day, as my path home from school took me right by their lot. It was found out later on because some government officials tested the water and found it was unsafe to drink right in my junior high school.

The company was forced to pay for the cleanup, and forced to pay for bottled water for all of the schools in our district, but that was it. An unusually high number of my schoolmates had family members diagnosed with a very specific and rare type of cancer. They all lived with about one square mile of each other.

My thought is that whoever did the dumping, signed off on it, whatever, should be in jail for murder. Not some "corporate responsibility" crap, not fines, but jail sentences for murder.

I don't think AMD is probably at fault here either, nor did I say that I did. But, I don't think it's fair when people dismiss all lawsuits against corporations as frivolous or ambulance chasing. Someone needs to keep corporations in check or what happened in the town where I grew up would happen much more often.


RE: Who's fault?
By masher2 (blog) on 11/9/2007 6:05:11 PM , Rating: 2
> "and they took no steps to notify the employee that they were in harm's way, would you still call this "ambulance chasing?"

If the employee actually *was* in harm's way. That's the question. Simply being "exposed" isn't harmful...I'm exposed to thousands of toxins, carcinogens, and even radioactive materials each and every day. The issue is the dose. Was it just brief exposure of a few ppb? Or a chronic exposure a thousand times greater? That's the central question.

> "I don't think it's fair when people dismiss all lawsuits against corporations as frivolous "

As I've already explained, I've not dismissed "all" suits. But from the few facts we have at hand now, this suit appears highly suspect.


RE: Who's fault?
By Pythias on 11/10/2007 12:48:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Personally, I'll let the jury decide. But I will say this fish seems to be stinking from the head.


I'd say you're bonkers. Consider the jury pool.


RE: Who's fault?
By BaliBabyDoc on 11/9/2007 8:17:35 PM , Rating: 1
As one of those 'doctors' let me correct some of misinformation that's been posted by others:

1) Congenital amputations caused by mechanical insults such as amniotic bands are typically NOT associated with significant cognitive deficits. In essence, it is unlikely that a mechanical insult alone explains this kid's presentation.

2) Although it is true that chlorine in the water supply is associated with a marginal increase in birth defects, the impact is a blip compared to what water quality would be like if chlorine wasn't available to reduce levels of fecal coliforms (crap) and cyanide in the water supply. There ARE safe levels of chlorine exposure . . even for pregnant women. At the moment there isn't a maximum safe level of poo in your water.

3) Aspirin is NOT associated with birth defects. In fact, mouse studies suggest that aspirin LOWERS the rate of birth defects induced by alcohol. More importantly, HUMAN studies suggest aspirin (prudently used) has no effect on low risk pregnancies and may IMPROVE outcomes for moderate to high risk pregnancies.

4) Tobacco use (nicotine) is associated with impaired fetal growth (low birth weight) but NOT defects. Now the CHEMICALS used on tobacco are a totally different story . . . which is likely pertinent to the case at hand.

5) Alcohol produces nothing even marginally comparable to this woman's kid. But fetal alcohol syndrome is indeed a public health menace.

6) Cocaine (despite the hype) isn't really associated w/ significant teratogenicity in humans. In fact, the overwelming majority of crack babies did quite well if properly treated for perinatal withdrawal symptoms.

7) As for heroin, we actually GIVE methadone to heroin-dependent women during the 1st trimester b/c the withdrawal symptoms are more dangerous to the fetus than the opiate.

8) OSHA has a federal mandate (except during the Bush43 years) to ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are evaluated, and that information concerning their hazards is transmitted to employers and employees. This transmittal of information is to be accomplished by means of comprehensive hazard communication programs, which are to include container labeling and other forms of warning, material safety data sheets and employee training.

9) As a doctor, my bias is to say the MD blew it. Common sense is 'primum non nocere'. The lady didn't have to live in a bubble during pregnancy but the notion of suggesting that a production facility filled with volatile organic compounds is an appropriate place for a pregnant woman is likely in the top 20 of 'hey, I want to get sued for malpractice'. Contrary to popular belief, not all doctors are knowledgeable. Some are downright ignorant. It's a shame this lady's PCP/Ob didn't have the decency/intelligence to say "I don't know" instead of "don't worry be happy."

In sum, AMD has a LEGAL responsibility to be aware of known AND possible risks from exposure. You don't have to be evil or indifferent to lose such a case . . . just liable. The MD has a LEGAL and ETHICAL responsibility to provide appropriate advice. We are not liable for bad outcomes. Perfect care often produces crappy results; that's life. We are liable for substandard care that 'potentially' contributes to bad outcomes.


RE: Who's fault?
By masher2 (blog) on 11/9/2007 10:09:47 PM , Rating: 2
> "let me correct some of misinformation that's been posted by others"

If you're referring to me, every compound I named is listed in the OEHHA "Prop 65" list as causing developmental defects. Not all of them cause the same defects seen in this particular case-- I was not suggesting otherwise.

> "Aspirin is NOT associated with birth defects."

Aspirin's on the OEHHA's list. It's also proven teratogenic in rats, resulting in both facial/cranial deformities and neural tube defects. In humans, studies have shown large third-trimester doses can cause fetal brain bleeding and subsequent neurological damage. And at least one study has shown a link between large first-trimester doses and cleft palate formation.

> "Alcohol produces nothing even marginally comparable to this woman's kid"

On the contrary, FAS does result in cognitive problems. Alchohol use, combined with a chance mechanical problem during her pregnancy, could easily explain this presentation.

> "7) As for heroin..."

I didn't see anyone but you mention heroin.

> "the notion of suggesting that a production facility filled with volatile organic compounds is an appropriate place for a pregnant woman "

Your mistake is in assuming this facility is "filled" with volatile organic compounds. I think its far more likely that all exposures were carefully regulated to OSHA guidelines, and levels far below what could have possibly generated these defects.

EGEE isn't teratologic in small doses, even to lab animals exposed six hours/day for their entire gestation period. It required longterm exposure in the 100+ppm range to cause cognitive effects, and even exposure in the 250ppm range didn't cause limb deformities.

Of course, this attorney is betting on the "we just don't know for sure" attack, combined with a liberal helping of sympathy for the deformed child. In the minds of many jurors (and apparently, several posters here) it doesn't really matter if AMD is guilty or not. A family has suffered, and someone with deep pockets must be found to pay.


RE: Who's fault?
By opterondo on 11/9/2007 11:04:07 PM , Rating: 2
More like her own fault .. common sense says not to drink, smoke, jump on a trampoline, or handle toxic chemicals when your pregnant.

-- It's amazing what happens when people take responsibility for their actions .. they look stupid.


RE: Who's fault?
By Christopher1 on 11/10/2007 3:35:45 AM , Rating: 2
I have to agree with everything that Scorpion said. AMD does have some blame in this case (they shouldn't have let ANY pregnant woman work in a fab with hazardous chemicals)..... but the major blame is on the doctor who told her "Oh, you're just worrying too much!".... unless it was a doctor employed by AMD.


RE: Who's fault?
By crystal clear on 11/10/2007 3:45:53 AM , Rating: 2
According to the petition, Ruiz alleged that 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.

The doctor was an AMD contractor....


RE: Who's fault?
By mindless1 on 11/10/2007 3:43:15 AM , Rating: 2
ABSOLUTELY NOT!

a DOCTOR only diagnoses health problems, is not responsible for the cause. "IF" AMD exposed her to significant levels of these toxins, they should pay billions.

I prefer AMD over Intel, despite that I concede Intel has a superior product line at the moment, but regardless of that AMD cannot be left to expose workers to these toxins regardless of whether pregnant or not. There just wasn't any "doctor factor" here, AMD had no right to cause the exposure at all to any human being!


RE: Who's fault?
By BaliBabyDoc on 11/10/2007 6:47:55 PM , Rating: 2
A 'study' with an n=1 isn't data. It's a published anecdote.

Fetal alcohol syndrome by definition requires exposure to alcohol PLUS multiple elements present in the child. Anyone claiming that alcohol consumption plus incidental mechanical banding would explain this kid doesn't know jack about either. If this kid was even in the ballpark of FAS no law firm would waste 5 minutes on it. It would be a total loser, that not even the drama queen (John Edwards) could pull off.

http://www.sciencenews.org/pages/sn_arc99/3_27_99/...
--
Of the 125 exposed women, 75 had complained during pregnancy that organic chemicals were giving them headaches or breathing problems. Of the 13 major defects in the exposed group, 12 occurred in babies born to these women.
---

Hmm, that sounds familiar.
' 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 burden of proof falls to AMD for proving safety . . . for pregnant women. If such evidence did not exist then they (and the doctor) are indeed liable.

As a doctor (that hasn't been sued . . . yet), the burden will be in the documentation. If the MD's clinic note suggests no risk then he's toast. If he's a contract employee of AMD, they are toast as well. For AMD to lose, all the plaintiffs need: 1) plausible causation - got it and 2) negligence. The latter is as simple as showing AMD was indifferent to the particular sensitivity of pregnant women to environmental insults.


"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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