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AMD Birth Defect Lawsuit Blames 'Clean Room' Chemical Exposure for Injuries to Worker's Son

Nov 9, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD), a technology firm based in Austin, Texas, has been sued by a former employee who blames the company for her son’s birth defects.  The plaintiff in the AMD birth defect lawsuit says that her exposure to toxic substances such as  glycol ethers and acetates at the AMD manufacturing plant during her pregnancy caused her son to be born with cognitive impairments, brain injuries and a missing limb.

Maria Ruiz worked at AMD’s Fab 14 facility from 1988 through 2002.  Ruiz worked in the AMD facility’s “clean room”, which was designed to keep dust particles away from delicate semiconductor parts.  Because the least bit of dust can ruin an expensive semiconductor, the electronics industry developed the clean room where dust levels are kept very low. To save energy costs, and to lower dust levels to near zero, filtered air is re-circulated in the clean rooms. As a result, workers are continually exposed to re-circulated mixtures of chemicals, including glycol ethers and acetates, because the chemical fumes and vapors are not removed by air and particulate filters.  Exposure to glycol ethers and acetates has been linked to the development of birth defects.

Chemical exposure has long been a problem plaguing workers in the technology, electronics and semiconductor industries.  In 2004, computer giant IBM settled a lawsuit brought by a woman born with severe deformities who alleged that the chemicals her mother was exposed to while pregnant and working for IBM caused her birth defects.  Following that settlement, IBM settled several other claims brought by workers who gave birth to children with severe birth defects while working under similar conditions.

During her employment in the AMD clean room, Ruiz alleges that she was exposed to glycol ethers and acetates on a regular basis. According to her AMD birth defect lawsuit, Ruiz required medical attention on at least two occasions after inhaling toxic fumes. After Ruiz discovered her pregnancy, the AMD birth defect lawsuit alleges that she made inquiries to the company about the potential health risks to her baby from the chemical exposure.  Despite her concerns, AMD allegedly returned Ruiz to work in the facility, where her fetus was exposed to the glycol ethers and acetates.   Ruiz’s son, Ryan, was born in October 1991 with a missing lower right arm, brain injury and cognitive impairments.

The AMD birth defect lawsuit alleges that the company knowingly failed to protect workers from hazardous chemicals, and wrongfully exposed Ruiz to dangerous chemicals during her pregnancy.   The five-count lawsuit accuses AMD of negligence, breach of warranty, fraud and fraudulent concealment, and misrepresentation.  The AMD birth defect lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages for Ruiz and her son.


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