Attorney for Flats workers cites
jurors' confusion as reason; motion to come soon
Lawyers for Rocky Flats workers sickened by
beryllium dust will argue jury confusion entitles their
clients to a new trial.
Steve Jensen, a lawyer for the workers, said
Wednesday that some of the jurors didn't understand
their verdict meant his clients couldn't collect any
money from Brush Wellman, the company that manufactures
A jury Tuesday ruled against four of the workers and
their families. The workers had claimed the Ohio-based
company is liable for their terminal lung disease.
But following the verdict, one juror said she was
under the impression the six-member panel had agreed
Brush Wellman was 10 percent responsible for the
"There's going to be a dispute about whether the
jury's verdict is in conflict with itself," Jensen said.
Jensen will ask District Court Judge Frank Plaut to
schedule a new trial. Jensen said he will file the
motion "in the next couple of weeks, if not sooner."
Ronald Roerish of Boulder, one of the workers who
sued, said the jurors seemed confused by the case.
"I don't blame the jurors -- they didn't understand
the legal mumbo jumbo," said Roerish, adding he didn't
understand much of it himself.
James Tooley of Berthoud, who also developed
beryllium disease at Rocky Flats, agreed.
"Maybe they didn't understand a lot of it," Tooley
said. "I know it was very complicated. . . . Maybe they
never worked in a place like that."
Jensen said he will decide whether to appeal once
Plaut rules on the motion for a new trial.
Brush Wellman lawyer Roy Atwood said the company will
appeal if the workers appeal. Although Brush Wellman
won, the company could still challenge rulings on
technical points that might affect other beryllium
That's more than a theoretical issue for Brush
Wellman since cases involving another 47 people suing
the company are pending before Plaut.
The additional cases will be heard in three trials
beginning in April 2002, Plaut said.
Brush Wellman faces another 75 lawsuits involving 200
Shortly after the verdict Tuesday, Brush Wellman
issued a statement saying, "This verdict, once and for
all, exonerates" the company.
But Stewart said his next step is to "pick another
jury," for the next trial starting Aug. 6 in Knoxville,
Tenn., involving workers from the Oak Ridge
"Our intent is to try them until we win," he said.