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Expert's testimony in Flats suit stricken

By Stacie Oulton
Denver Post Staff Writer


Tuesday, June 19, 2001 - GOLDEN - Testimony of an expert witness for Rocky Flats workers was thrown out Monday after a judge said the witness lacked credibility because of his animosity and hatred. The workers are suing over contracting a disabling lung disease after working with the metal beryllium.

Jefferson County District Judge Frank Plaut said he also will punish the Dallas law firm of Baron & Budd for calling Dr. David Egilman, a witness the firm knew was "out of control."

Plaut told jurors to disregard testimony of Egilman, a Boston doctor and Brown University professor, but he stopped short of declaring a mistrial.

"They knew as well as anyone - all of us knew - Dr. Egilman was hostile, biased and vindictive," Plaut said of the law firm. Plaut made his critical remarks when the jury was not in the courtroom.

The firm represents four Rocky Flats workers and their wives who are suing Brush Wellman Inc. over their chronic beryllium disease. Brush supplied beryllium to the former nuclear weapons plant, and the suit alleges that the company covered up vital information about the metal's toxicity.

In court last week, Egilman testified that Brush lied in scientific information about its knowledge of the dangers of beryllium.

Egilman published nasty statements about Plaut and Jones Day, the law firm representing Brush, on a Web site. Plaut called the information "scurrilous and inflammatory" that "cast doubt on his integrity as a witness."

Egilman alleges Jones Day broke into a password-protected Web site, planting information on it, according to court documents.

But Plaut found that Egilman's Web site violated a gag order issued last month. Plaut concluded that Egilman and Baron & Budd were "playing games."

Later this week, he said, he will sanction the firm and one lawyer who appeared in an e-mail to support Egilman's violation of the gag order.


 

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