Class Blames Ozone Washers for Illness

     LAS VEGAS (CN) — Six laundry workers at a Las Vegas casino-hotel say in a federal class action that Ozone Solutions, which makes industrial washing machines that mix ozone with water, made them ill with ozone poisoning.
     Eunice Dominguez et al. did not sue their employer, the Luxor Hotel; they sued Iowa-based Ozone Solutions, which makes the big machines. All six women say they “have repeatedly sought medical help [and] have missed considerable amounts of work due to the symptoms of ozone exposure.”
     They claim the company “knew that there were notable problems with the Ozone generators,” but did not disclose them.
     “In short, the ozone generators are poisoning plaintiffs,” they say.
     Ozone Solutions also maintains the Luxor’s five ozone generators, but Dominguez says the generators often are broken, defectively designed, do not work properly, and that the company has not been able to fix the problem.
     Because ozone — the oxygen molecule O3, rather than O2 — is an unstable form of the element, it is a powerful oxidant, which makes it a good cleaner. Unlike O2, ozone smells like chlorine and can damage mucous tissues, such as lung linings. It is a primary ingredient of smog, and can exacerbate and cause respiratory illnesses.
     Dominguez claims that Ozone Solutions worked with officials at the Luxor and its medical provider, Concentra to cover up the ozone poisoning.
     “Plaintiffs were repeatedly told that their conditions were merely allergies,” the complaint state. “Upon information and belief, Ozone Solutions was in communication with Luxor and Luxor’s contracted medical services provider Concentra to blame any possible cause of the plaintiffs’ consistent and similar medical conditions on causes other than the Ozone generators. Upon information and belief, Ozone Solutions worked with Luxor in other proceedings to defend and aggressively suppress any allegation that the Ozone generators were the source of the plaintiffs’ multitude of related illnesses.
     “However, after so many of the plaintiffs and those similarly situation showed the same effects of ozone overexposure, there began to be concessions by Concentra’s medical care providers that it was in fact ozone causing the plaintiffs’ conditions.”
     Neither Concentra nor the Luxor are defendants. The only defendants are Ozone Solutions and Does 1-10.
     Dominguez et al. say Ozone Solutions “concealed the known defects” and the “unreasonable risks” of its cleaning system and they would not have agreed to use or even be near the ozone generators had they known of the dangers.
     The lawsuit cites promotional material from the Ozone Solutions Web page: “Ozone washing increases textile life, reduces energy costs, allows faster fill rates, shorter wash cycles, and even shorter drying times. Whiter, softer, sanitized, fresh smelling, and longer lasting linens and clothes results in huge savings. … Ozone allows users to achieve high quality standards without the use of hot water and chemicals, due to it being a highly effective oxidizer using only cold water.”
     However, the laundrywomen say: “When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs. Relatively low amounts can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and throat irritation. Ozone may also worsen chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and compromise the ability of the body to fight respiratory infections.”
     The result is increased work absences, and higher medical and hospitalization costs for workers exposed to high concentrations of ozone, Dominguez says. (Graph 19)
     The workers cite 22 medical problems they have suffered from ozone, including chest pain, bronchospasm, laryngitis, conjunctivitis, headaches, hoarseness, loss of senses of smell and taste, nausea and vomiting.
     They seek medical expenses and punitive damages for product liability, failure to warn, intentional and negligent misrepresentation, negligence and breach of warranty.
     They are represented by Ryan Alexander, who could not be contacted for comment after business hours Tuesday. Nor could Ozone Solutions.

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