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Saturday, June 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Wal-Mart Workers’ CO Claim Runs Out of Gas

(CN) - A group of Wal-Mart employees waited too long to sue over their alleged exposure to carbon monoxide gas in the freezer section of Wal-Mart's distribution center in Kentucky, the 6th Circuit ruled.

The Cincinnati appeals court agreed with a federal judge that the plaintiffs -- current and former Wal-Mart employees and their spouses -- should have sued within a year of their last alleged exposure to the gas.

The plaintiffs blamed the exposure on two companies, Unarco Material Handling and Atlas Material Handing, which allegedly operated propane-powered welders inside the distribution center. Wal-Mart was not a party to the lawsuit.

Another group of employees had sued within Kentucky's one-year statute of limitations and eventually settled their claims with Unarco and Atlas.

The distribution center employees who sued later, dubbed the "new plaintiffs" by the 6th Circuit, argued that the companies had been notified of their claims by the original plaintiffs' timely lawsuit.

Judge Richard Griffin rejected this view as "myopic."

He also tossed the plaintiffs' "half-hearted argument" that their injuries from the carbon monoxide exposure were latent, and thus weren't known right away.

"[T]he new plaintiffs concede that their injuries from carbon monoxide exposure, like those of the timely plaintiffs, manifested immediately," Griffin wrote.

The three-judge panel concluded that the lawsuit was properly dismissed as time-barred.

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