Mississippi Supreme Court to Hear Damage Lawsuit Appeal

September 12, 2008

The Mississippi Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments for Oct. 6 in Franklin Corp.’s appeal on a multimillion-dollar verdict won by four workers who claimed they suffered medical problems because of inadequate ventilation at a Houston, Miss. furniture plant.

A Calhoun County jury returned the decision for the workers in 2007.

The four workers alleged that they repeatedly asked management whether the adhesive they sprayed on foam cushioning was causing nausea, dizziness, laryngitis, coughing, headaches and other medical problems. They claimed the company ignored their questions.

The jury awarded damages totaling $9.5 million to Pauline Tedford and Lora Smith of Eupora, Judy Haire of Vardaman and Samantha Mixon of Houston. The four worked at Franklin Corp. for varying lengths of time between 1999 and 2004.

A judge later reduced the amount to $3.76 million.

Franklin Corp. is one of the largest privately owned furniture manufacturers in the United States with about 1,200 workers.

According to court documents, the company used Soft Seam Adhesive, which contained a hazardous chemical known as propyl bromide from 1999 until 2004.

The workers claimed they were directly exposed to Soft Seam Adhesive in enclosed booths without ventilation, respiratory protection, or eye or skin protection for 10-12 hours a day, court documents showed.

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