|Regional News | Article
published Friday, October 4, 2002|
loses wage case
By KELLY LECKER
CLEVELAND - A judge ruled against a former
Brush Wellman employee who said the company agreed to continue
paying him after he contracted beryllium disease, then cut off his
The Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge granted
summary judgment Wednesday in favor of Brush Wellman and against
David Norgard of Manitou Beach, Mich.
The court ruled that
under the contract, Mr. Norgard, who worked at Brush’s Elmore plant,
was to be paid if he was unable to work or if the company could not
provide him with a job.
"The judge ruled he had to work
unless he was totally disabled," said Louise Roselle, an attorney
for Mr. Norgard.
Mr. Norgard’s attorneys had argued that
because of depression, his anger at the company, and the pressure he
felt from Brush Wellman, he was not able to work for the company,
and that is why he turned down a job they assigned him in 1996 at
the Toledo Museum of Art.
The judge disagreed that Mr.
Norgard, who was diagnosed with beryllium disease in 1992, was
unable to work for Brush and that he held up his end of the
Beryllium is a lightweight material used to make,
among other things, nuclear bombs. Breathing it in can cause an
incurable, sometimes fatal disease called chronic beryllium
Mr. Norgard’s family and his attorney said he plans
to appeal, and that the issue is still that Brush Wellman wrongly
cut off his salary.
The court had ruled Friday on some
motions in the case, most of which were filed by Brush Wellman, and
agreed with the company’s interpretation of the contract. Once the
judge ruled in favor of the company’s interpretation with the
contract, there wasn’t much evidence to support Mr. Norgard, Ms.
Brush has won a string of lawsuits across the
country filed by former or current employees or contractors who
contracted beryllium disease.
The company said in a statement
that Mr. Norgard and other plaintiffs have been "misled by their
attorneys into believing that their cases had merit and would be
convincing to a court."
This was one of two lawsuits Mr.
Norgard has filed against Brush Wellman. The other is an intentional
tort suit accusing Brush Wellman of intentionally exposing Mr.
Norgard to conditions that gave him chronic beryllium
A state appeals court threw the case out, ruling
that the suit, filed in 1997, has passed its statute of limitations
because workers have two years from the time they are diagnosed and
have an idea what caused it.
Mr. Norgard’s attorneys took the
case to the Ohio Supreme Court, arguing that it was not until 1995
that Mr. Norgard received information that made him believe Brush
intentionally withheld information about the causes of chronic
The Supreme Court agreed with Mr. Norgard.
The case is pending.