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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:At SST Trucking Co.’s facility in Garland, tractor cabs are painted in booths with a filtering system in the floor. Heavy metal grates cover the filtering system. Paint accumulates on these grates, and the grates are periodically removed and cleaned. In 2000, SST purchased a used industrial oven to burn the accumulated paint off the grates. SST contracts with other companies such as Active Transportation to transport the finished trucks to dealers. In the spring of 2000, the 14 appellants were employees of Active Transportation working at SST’s premises in Garland. Appellants alleged SST’s negligent use of the industrial oven caused toxic fumes to be emitted into the air. From their exposure to these fumes, appellants claimed permanent injury including reactive airway dysfunction syndrome, or RADS, a type of occupational asthma. The appellants brought suit against SST to recover damages for their injuries. After hearing approximately six weeks of testimony, the jury answered “no” to the question, “Did the negligence, if any, of SST Truck Company, L.L.C. proximately cause the occurrence in question?” Because of its negative answer to this question, the trial court did not require the jury to answer any other questions. The trial court rendered judgment on a jury’s verdict in favor of SST. The 14 appellants appealed. They argued that SST’s expert Dr. Trang Nguyen should not have been permitted to testify and factually insufficient evidence supported the jury’s verdict. HOLDING:Affirmed. The appellants challenged the judgment on factual sufficiency grounds, arguing that the evidence of SST’s negligence, proximate cause and damages was conclusive. They contended that SST knowingly overloaded the oven and burned grates with “uncured” paint on them, contrary to the oven manufacturer’s instructions. They argued SST’s operation of the oven caused visible toxic smoke containing isocyanates (molecules containing cyanide) to be released into their work area at a level 200 times that considered to be safe. They claimed that their complaints about the smoke were ignored. They pointed to the testimony of Dr. Michael Motta, a board-certified pulmonologist, who diagnosed them with RADS from their exposure to the toxic fumes, and argued that their uncontroverted medical records established their permanent respiratory injuries. They argued that the testimony relating to their future medical expenses and lost income was uncontroverted and conclusive. SST argued that the jury’s verdict could have concluded the negligence of Lance Lawson, an independent contractor hired by SST to refurbish and repair the oven, was the sole proximate cause of the occurrence. Alternatively, SST argued that the jury could have concluded the appellants’ testimony was not truthful in many respects, including the thickness of the smoke and appellants’ symptoms at the time of the incident. In addition, SST argued that the testimony of Dr. Barry Dellinger, a combustion expert, was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict. Dellinger testified isocyanate compounds are fragile, decomposing after two seconds at temperatures of 554 degrees Fahrenheit. Dellinger reviewed Lawson’s records of the May 23 occurrence and concluded, regardless of the number of grates in the oven, it was impossible for any isocyanates to have survived the oven’s temperature and the fire. SST also contends the evidence of its toxicology expert was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict. Dr. Philip Goad testified even if the jury accepted appellants’ estimates of the isocyanate concentration near their work area on May 23, there was an insufficient amount to cause appellants permanent harm. After considering all of the evidence, the court concluded that the jury’s finding was not so contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence as to be clearly wrong and unjust. Factually sufficient evidence supported the jury’s finding, the court found. OPINION:Morris, J.; Morris, O’Neill and Moseley, J.J.

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