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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 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 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
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>

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch
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