Jury awards Missouri worker $28M for ...

Jury awards Missouri worker $28M for lung damage

There are 17 comments on the Springfield News-Leader story from Nov 25, 2013, titled Jury awards Missouri worker $28M for lung damage. In it, Springfield News-Leader reports that:

<![CDATA[LEBANON, Mo. (AP) -- A Laclede County jury has ordered a Missouri company to pay $28 million to a worker who claimed his lungs were damaged at a compressor plant in south-central Missouri. In the lawsuit, Philip Berger, 56, claimed he developed inflammation of the lung after breathing contaminants from a chemical used to cool cutting tools at Copeland Scroll Compressors, a firm owned by Ferguson-based Emerson Climate Technologies. Emerson plans to appeal the verdict. Berger's lawyer, Kenneth McClain, said Berger began coughing severely after a ventilator failed and a vapor cloud filled the area where he worked. He was diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonitis, caused by exposure to mold and bacteria found in the fluid. McClain accused the company of knowing the dangers of working with the fluid and failing to warn employees or provide safety training. McClain said the company used Berger as a "blue-collar guinea pig." The trial in Laclede County Circuit Court lasted two weeks, McClain said. The jury deliberated two hours on Friday before awarding $5 million in actual damages and $23 million in punitive damages. A lawyer for Copeland, Joseph Orlet, told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch in an email that the plant is a "very safe work environment," and that management follows chemical safety standards. "Despite Mr. Berger's claim that he had suffered permanent lung damage, he continued to work for Copeland until the trial with no change in duties," Orlet said. "This included strenuous activity and 200 to 300 hours of overtime every year. Also, he rode his bicycle two miles each way to and from work three times a week, spent the last four years as a drummer in a rock band and personally remodeled his house last month. None of this seems consistent with the disability he claimed," Orlet said. ------ Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Springfield News-Leader.

Tom

Lebanon, MO

#1 Nov 26, 2013
This is totally ridiculous. I work there and all they care about is safety - all the time! I know this person and he's not sick! He's been to work every day!! The whole scam is completely fake. How does a person get away with this?
Jenny

United States

#2 Nov 26, 2013
I agree! I work there too, and I work in scroll. It has always been a safe place. He was a maintenance guy!!! He didn't work in the machining.
Rob

Lebanon, MO

#3 Nov 30, 2013
The time when this all happen was in like 2001. Copeland plant was a different place then it is now. He was in machining when this all happened. There has been several others that this has happened to but phil and 2 other are the only ones that still work for copeland.
Mark

Belleville, IL

#4 Nov 30, 2013
It happened in 2005.
He was NOT ever more than a few minutes at a time in the machining area when hundreds and hundreds of people really WORKED on and in the machining cells.
The entire sad scam was perpetrated by only a few employees as you say, mostly maintenance workers who hardly had barely minimal exposure. There are probably close to a 1000 people who were exposed 40 hours a week and were not sick, and some have worked in machining 20 years! Very disturbing that this person could pull this scam and harm the jobs of good hardworking people.
Cope land is the safest place I have ever worked and I would proudly work there again.
Susan

Lebanon, MO

#5 Nov 30, 2013
Mark is right. There is nothing wrong with Phil, he never missed a day of work.
What a joke!
brian

Eugene, OR

#6 Dec 1, 2013
emerson sucks. you know they work people to they bone, play favoritess, play footsie in the office, and how can all the fat girls do the work, do they make them take physicals? have you seen the size of some of those women? I hope they have to pay the full verdict. when are they moving more lines to mexico, then the workers can't gripe anymore, LMFAO
line 1

United States

#7 Dec 6, 2013
brian wrote:
emerson sucks. you know they work people to they bone, play favoritess, play footsie in the office, and how can all the fat girls do the work, do they make them take physicals? have you seen the size of some of those women? I hope they have to pay the full verdict. when are they moving more lines to mexico, then the workers can't gripe anymore, LMFAO
What??
Big Duck

Eugene, OR

#8 Dec 7, 2013
they'll appeal, it'll take awhile and those crooks from Copeland will have to settle for something. is it true that most of the workforce is not from Lebanon, but surrounding little towns? speaks volumes of the work force in town!
Susan

Lebanon, MO

#9 Dec 12, 2013
Well it ain't right. How can someone be at work every single day and claim they are sick? And gonna die? Please. Spare me.
Chief

Springfield, OR

#10 Dec 16, 2013
they'll pay or settle, wait and see? Are they going to the new schedule yet, I hear they are wanting to, 2 days on, 2days off 3 days on one week, 2 off, 3 on and 2 off the next? Are they still pleased of the performance of the Mexican line? are they going to move more lines there? Remember when Copeland made a deal with the city and the devil to not bring the union to town, that why they left Ohio and made Lebanon home office, for the non union cheap labor force in Lebanon, And made sure they wouldn't hire the workers from other industries in town, and to keep the wage low? Remember that? So no one could better themselves with a better job? With all that money they have saved over the years, they can pay that judgement and just make sure they fix the problem.
Amanda

United States

#11 Dec 19, 2013
There never was a problem it was just made up by some guys and they got a doctor to buy it.
Uncle ben

Eugene, OR

#12 Dec 22, 2013
looks like the jury believed the doctor as opposed to the liars at Copeland who were just worried bout their jobs. Wonder if their insurance rates would go down if they quit hiring obese women to work there and putting them in positions of charge, lol. That might help, The food bill alone for some of these gals could pay that judgement, LMFAO
jim

Chicago, IL

#13 Jan 10, 2014
Susan wrote:
Well it ain't right. How can someone be at work every single day and claim they are sick? And gonna die? Please. Spare me.
your compassion is touching. Ask what's the scroll secret? Asbestos. Copeland makes cancer.
Mr Scroll

United States

#14 Jan 15, 2014
jim wrote:
<quoted text> your compassion is touching. Ask what's the scroll secret? Asbestos. Copeland makes cancer.
I work there. Asbestos was outlawed at the time the plant was built so that was not possible. The only secret at the plant is the process that makes the best scrolls in the world, and it has nothing to do with the metal cutting it is the controls. The whole idea that a person who never missed any work in many years is ill is nonsense and it is just money-hungry society that files lawsuits for anything. Copeland's is the safest place you could be.
Payme

Springfield, OR

#15 Jan 15, 2014
safe, maybe, but a lil less weight in the pocketbook ,huh! What is that smell in the scroll dept?
jim todd

Saint Louis, MO

#16 Jan 18, 2014
Did anyone actually work with Phil? It would be interesting to talk with them. How has the managers and staff handled this? I bet the whole plant is up in arms.
Hawardc

Neosho, MO

#17 Sep 23, 2014
jim todd wrote:
Did anyone actually work with Phil? It would be interesting to talk with them. How has the managers and staff handled this? I bet the whole plant is up in arms.
What is the latest on this suit. It has been quiet for months now.

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