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The company that supplied beryllium to a former nuclear weapons plant was not responsible for the illness of four workers who said they were sickened from exposure to the metal, a jury in Colorado decided Tuesday. The six-person jury ruled that Cleveland-based Brush Wellman was not negligent, and no damages were awarded to the plaintiffs. Jurors told attorneys they believed the former employees of the now-closed Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant in Colorado assumed some risk with the job, said Al Stewart, attorney for the plaintiffs. The workers had asserted that Brush Wellman failed to warn them about the metal’s effects. The jury in Jefferson County, Colo. found that poor management at Rocky Flats was to blame. The plaintiffs have filed separate claims against the government; Rocky Flats operators; Dow Chemical; and Rockwell International. Brush Wellman attorney Jeffrey Ubersux said the jury’s verdict confirms that “Brush Wellman had provided adequate warnings to the users of its products.” Beryllium is a hard, gray metal that is extracted from ore, refined into a very fine powder and used in manufacturing nuclear weapons, cars, cell phones and other products. Chronic beryllium disease inflames and scars the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Of the four workers in court Tuesday, two were using oxygen tanks. The plaintiffs had no comment on Tuesday’s verdict. Stewart said no decision has been made on whether his clients will appeal. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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