Jury Awards Mo. Worker $28M For Lung Damage

LEBANON, Mo. (AP) -- A Laclede County jury has ordered a company to pay $28 million to a worker who claimed his lungs were damaged at a compressor plant in south-central Missouri.

In the lawsuit, Philip Berger claimed he developed inflammation of the lung after breathing contaminants from a chemical used to cool cutting tools at Copeland Scroll Compressors, a firm owned by Ferguson-based Emerson Climate Technologies. Berger's lawyer, Kenneth McClain, says the company knew the dangers of working with the fluid but didn't warn employees or provide safety training.

McLain says the jury Friday awarded $5 million in actual damages and $23 million in punitive damages.

Copeland's lawyer, Joseph Orlet, told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch the plant is a "very safe work environment," and management follows safety standards. Emerson plans to appeal.

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