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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 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.

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