Man Says Defense Work Took His Tongue

SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – A man says he suffered a string of cancers and lost part of his tongue in an excruciating ordeal caused by deliberate manipulation of monitoring equipment at a federal contractor’s nerve gas destruction plant in Tooele, Utah. Kyle George, a monitoring technician, sued EG&G Defense Materials and its subcontractor, Battelle Memorial Institute, in Federal Court.

     George says he also developed severe aplastic anemia from his job at the nerve gas plant, at which he was hired September 2003.
     George claims that he and his crew, wearing gas masks, had to check 178 air-monitoring systems. He claims that technicians intentionally altered the air monitors so that leaks would go unreported, and that middle and top management knew it, as did floor supervisors, all of whom turned a blind eye to it.
     George claims the plant failed to keep track of what toxic agents were released through its burn exhaust stack, and that technicians cleaned toxic material from syringes they in common areas.
     The FBI was called in to investigate the negligence, and one technician lost his job, according to the complaint.
     By then, George says, he was feeling quite sick. A company physical revealed he’d developed severe aplastic anemia, which kills bone marrow and can require a marrow transplant.
     Tests revealed George had no genetic predisposition to the disease, leaving chemical and toxin exposure as the probable cause. But that was only the beginning of the ordeal.
     George could not find a marrow donor match, so his doctors had to try to jump-start his marrow and suppress his immune system to prepare him for transplant should a donor be found.
     “The pain was extreme – the worst pain he’d had in his life,” the complaint states. “Excruciating. He couldn’t get away from it. He had to take Oxycontin and Fentanyl patches for the bone pain associated with [the treatment drug] Neupogen. He continued having platelet and blood transfusions.”
     Although George continued to receive a paycheck and medical benefits from Battelle during the first 6 months of his health crisis, this income was quickly swallowed up by his mounting medical bills. George finally got a transplant, after bouts with terrible ailments, including fungal pneumonia.
     At one point, George says his despair was so deep that “he thought he was just going to die.”
     “After receiving the transplant, the Georges thought the end of their suffering was over or near. In fact, it was all just starting,” the complaint states.
     What followed was “nearly 6 years of immense pain and suffering.”
     George suffered infection after infection, necessitating multiple hospitalizations.
     Unable to walk or to even play with his children, George says his wife was forced to do everything around the house and to take outside employment to make ends meet. Ultimately the family was forced to sell their home and an adjacent roping arena, just to keep pace with their medical bills.
     With his immune system compromised, George developed a series of skin cancers, resulting in three resections of his lip and ears, and the removal of the tip of his tongue. Even doctor-endorsed activities, like swimming in a pool, left him with gastrointestinal illnesses.
     George says he is “no longer the man he was when he went to work at the Tooele plant. He has lost his ability to work or enjoy life, and the sickness has completely changed him physically and mentally.”
     The Georges seek punitive damages for breach of contract, negligence, product liability, liability for unreasonably dangerous activity and loss of consortium. They also want a trust established for their three young children.
     They are represented by Adam Ford with Ford and Huff of Lehi, Utah.

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