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Appeals Court Decides for Brush Wellman in Worker Case, Acknowledges Company's Extensive Safety and Health Measures



An Ohio appeals court has ruled for Brush Wellman Inc. in the intentional tort case of Renwand v. Brush Wellman Inc. The decision by the Court of Appeals, Eighth District, is important to Brush Wellman as it sets a precedent for similar pending litigation involving the Company, and for its unequivocal acknowledgement of Brush Wellman's extensive worker protection measures.

The unanimous ruling by the three-judge panel caps a consecutive series of decisions by judges and juries in several states exonerating Brush Wellman from the baseless charges that it has intentionally caused workers to be harmed. It further discredits the false and sensationalized charges by a Toledo Blade investigative series, the television program 20/20, and a number of plaintiff's attorneys alleging that the Company compromised employee protection.

The appeals court's decision affirms the granting of summary judgment for the Company by the Cuyahoga County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas in January. In the case, Gary P. Renwand, Jr., an employee of Brush Wellman's Elmore, Ohio facility, alleged that the Company had "deliberately and intentionally exposed him to unreasonably and abnormally hazardous working conditions, knowing that injury and disease would occur."

To the contrary, Brush Wellman showed that it sought to protect Mr. Renwand from contracting chronic beryllium disease (CBD). The Company submitted evidence of its extensive warning, training and industrial hygiene programs designed to reduce the known occupational risks of working with beryllium.

The appeals court explained that it had to "look to see if Brush Wellman failed to adequately protect employees from the inherent dangers of beryllium exposure, whether Brush Wellman evinced disregard for the safety of its employees, and whether Brush Wellman failed to even attempt to achieve recommended safety levels as set forth by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration." Following this review, the court determined that the "record is replete with evidence that Brush did not fail in this regard."

The court determined that, "In fact, the evidence indicated that Brush Wellman instituted safety precautions with regard to procedures and employee awareness to ensure that employees would not contract CBD." The appeals court said that based on the evidence presented, Brush Wellman "did not disregard the safety of any of its employees and worked diligently to protect its employees from CBD."

The ruling detailed the extent of Brush Wellman's proactive and wide-ranging safety measures, including a dedicated safety and health department, personalized employee safety orientation and subsequent training, regular air quality monitoring with posting of sampling results to workers, communication updates to employees when new information was available, monthly safety meetings and annual informational sessions.

The court also acknowledged the Company's improvements in worker protection through the use of ventilation equipment, respirators, specific workplace practices and for its special company-provided clothing and showers at the end of work shifts. It concluded, "Brush Wellman responded with diligence to ensure its employees were exposed minimally to beryllium, thus reducing any risk that they might contract CBD."

"When presented with the facts, unbiased third parties have vindicated Brush Wellman from these unfair, false and totally unsupportable allegations," said a Brush Wellman spokesman. "This ruling makes it irrefutably clear that the Company has gone -- and continues to go -- to great effort to protect its employees. We believe this decision will prompt other litigants against Brush Wellman to reassess the strength of their claims," he added.

Brush Wellman Inc., headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Brush Engineered Materials Inc. (NYSE:BW). The Company, through its wholly-owned subsidiaries, supplies worldwide markets with beryllium products, alloy products, electronic products, precious metal products, and engineered material systems.

Brush Engineered Materials Inc.
Investors: Michael C. Hasychak, 216/383-6823
Media: Patrick S. Carpenter, 216/383-6835
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