December 29, 2010
Mississippi Supreme Court Reverses Plaintiff Verdict in Welding Rod case
On December 9, 2010, the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned a $1.86 million Copiah County, Mississippi jury verdict in favor of a welder who claimed welding rods manufactured by The Lincoln Electric Co. and ESAB Group Inc. caused his magnesium-related neurological disease
As stated by the Mississippi Supreme Court:
This case involves a welder's claim of product liability and failure to warn against Lincoln Electric Company (Lincoln) and the ESAB Group, Inc. (ESAB), manufacturers of welding rods ("Defendants"), for exposure to harmful welding fumes that resulted in his eventual diagnosis of manganism, a neurological disease caused by high exposure to manganese. The plaintiff, Stanley McLemore, alleged that he had used the Defendants' rods, which contained manganese, to weld materials together.
McLemore filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Copiah County on November 14, 2005. An amended complaint followed on March 3, 2006. In April 2007, the Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that McLemore had filed suit outside the three-year statute of limitations. The trial court denied the motion for summary judgment. The Defendants also filed a motion to exclude the expert testimony of Dr. Michael Swash, which the trial court denied.
The matter proceeded to trial on November 6, 2008. A jury returned a verdict in favor of McLemore finding the Defendants liable and awarding McLemore $1,855,000. The Defendants filed post-trial motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or, in the alternative, for a new trial. Following the trial court's denial of the motions, the Defendants filed a notice of appeal raising three issues:
I. Whether the trial court improperly admitted McLemore's medical expert's diagnosis.
II. Whether McLemore proved that each Defendant's products were a substantial factor in causing his injury.
III. Whether McLemore's claims were barred by the statute of limitations, and whether the form of the verdict misstated the relevant question on the issue of statute of limitations.
Finding the issue of the statute of limitations to be dispositive, this Court reverses and renders the trial court judgment enforcing the verdict of the jury.
The Mississippi Supreme Court decision of 12/9/10 can be found here