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Print 110 comment(s) - last by clovell.. on Nov 12 at 3:19 PM

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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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).


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