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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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RE: Who's fault?
By masher2 (blog) on 11/9/2007 1:19:31 PM , Rating: -1
> "...Especially not with freakin toxic chemicals"

All chemicals are toxic in a large enough dose. We don't have all the facts here, but I seriously doubt she was exposed to dangerous doses, or that this particular birth defect was due to her employment at AMD.


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.


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