Montana Ammunition Company Sued Over Lead Exposure

December 9, 2014

Eight former and current employees of a Bozeman, Mont., ammunition company fined for safety violations have filed a lawsuit saying they were exposed to dangerous levels of lead.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday against USA Brass Co., which cleans and resells used brass ammunition casings. The company was fined by federal workplace safety regulators earlier this year.

The lawsuit includes claims of fraud, deceit and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported. The plaintiffs seek unspecified damages.

The lawsuit says that the company’s managers told employees to ignore the hazards and continue working even if they had symptoms consistent with chronic lead exposure.

In May 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration received an anonymous letter alleging hazards at USA Brass, which had opened in Bozeman the month before.

After an inspection, OSHA identified 12 serious violations of lead-safety regulations. The violations included failing to give employees protective work clothing and equipment, not performing air sampling, and not giving employees information or training on the hazards of lead exposure.

In September 2013, OSHA fined USA Brass $45,500.

The plaintiffs say that they have suffered from nausea, sleeplessness, bowel problems, headaches, respiratory problems and cognitive difficulties.

Bozeman attorneys Bruce Brown and Michale Uda, who are representing the plaintiffs, say that USA Brass intentionally exposed employees to lead with the intention of using them to maximize profits at the expense of the employees’ health and safety.

USA Brass has not filed a response to the lawsuit. Company co-owner Nolan Schimpf did not return a message seeking comment.

In March, federal agents raided the business. The EPA confirmed agents were searching the business after reports of violations of environmental laws. No criminal charges have been filed as a result of that investigation.

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