New Jersey RTs win $2.8M in x-ray chemicals suit


Three radiologic technologists (RTs) from New Jersey have won a $2.8 million jury verdict against an x-ray distribution and servicing firm after they claimed that the company installed a faulty vent for a medical film printer that caused the RTs to suffer from respiratory illnesses.

Three technologists from Princeton Regional Orthopedics of Princeton, NJ, filed suit in Superior Court of New Jersey in Mercer County, charging that A Walsh Imaging of Pompton Lakes, NJ, put in a faulty venting system when it installed the printer. The plaintiffs in the suit were Shellie Austin, Elizabeth Hall, and Gail Letizia.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs charged that A Walsh Imaging installed an x-ray film printer at the orthopedic practice in January 2007, where the three technologists were responsible for processing x-ray films in an 8 x 8-ft room. But the firm allegedly did not install a vent for the machine, according to Steven Blader, an attorney for Szaferman, Lakind, Blumstein & Blader, a Lawrenceville, NJ, law firm that represented the women.

The women immediately became ill following the installation, suffering from a burning sensation in the nose and upper airways, coughing, and nasal bleeding. After contacting A Walsh Imaging about the problems, the firm came out the next day and installed a vent for the printer, but the women continued to experience respiratory problems over the next nine months, Blader said. Upon inspecting the venting, they found that a portion of the vent hose facing the floor was perforated in multiple locations, he said.

"For nine months they had been exposed to these chemicals because of the perforations of the hosing of the vent tube," Blader told

The plaintiffs claimed that the epithelial layer of their respiratory system was damaged as a result of inhaling chemical fumes, and now any exposure to fumes, such as from household cleaners, smoke, perfume, or dust irritates their respiratory systems. Two of the technologists had asthma prior to the exposures and have had to significantly boost their medication dosage; one RT who didn't have asthma has had to go on medication.

Blader's firm filed suit in January 2007 and amended the complaint in October 2007 after the technologists discovered the perforated hose. The plaintiffs originally asked for $3.6 million; he said they declined an offer from A Walsh Imaging to settle the case for $750,000.

After a trial that concluded on December 21, a jury voted 8-0 to award each technologist $825,000, which, after interest, came to $942,206.50 for each plaintiff.

Blader said that Princeton Regional Orthopedics solved the problem by installing a digital radiography system and eliminating its film processor in March 2008. The three women still work at the office, which Blader said was "very cooperative and sympathetic" to their condition.

Representatives from A Walsh Imaging were unavailable for comment as of press time.


By Brian Casey staff writer
January 14, 2010

Last updated bc 1/13/2010 4:17:55 PM

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