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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 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.


"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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