Poisoned Worker Wins Round One in Court

The Boston Herald reports that a former Raytheon Co. worker who says she suffered beryllium poisoning while working at the defense contractor’s Waltham lab has won another round in her lawsuit.

A federal appeals court in Boston has remanded Suzanne Genereux’s lawsuit to the district court, but it upheld an earlier ruling that removed Raytheon from the dispute.  Yesterday, Genereux’s lawyer, Ruben Honik of Philadelphia, declined to comment on the on-going litigation, but said he is grateful “that the First Circuit court ruled the way it did.”

From 1982 to 1990, Genereux worked at Raytheon’s Backward Wave Oscillator Lab, assembling radar tube components. They contained beryllium, a lightweight, strong, silver metal with several high-tech commercial uses. Beryllium dust and fumes have been found to cause respiratory problems in humans.

In 2004, Genereux sued Brush Wellman, Inc., American Beryllia Corp., and Hardric Laboratories, Inc., saying the manufacturers, whose beryllium-based products she used at Raytheon, are responsible for her Parkinson’s disease and lung problems, and should pay for her medical care. Genereux also sued Raytheon, saying it should have protected its workers better.

A lower court threw out Genereux’s suit, saying she filed it three days after Massachusetts’ statute of limitations ran out. The court also rejected her claims against Raytheon.  Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that the statute of limitations didn’t go into effect until Genereux was diagnosed with beryllium-related disease, not earlier, when she was diagnosed with asthma.

Click here to read the 1st Circuit opinion written by Judge Lipez.

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