AMD charged with exposing worker to hazardous chemicals

Employee says exposure to glycol ethers and acetates in AMD lab caused severe birth defects in her son

A former employee has sued Advanced Micro Devices for allegedly exposing her to chemicals that caused severe birth defects in her son.

Maria Ruiz and her now 16-year-old son Ryan, both of Austin, filed the suit against AMD, claiming that her exposure to glycol ethers and acetates in the company's Fab 14 manufacturing plant caused her son to be born with a brain injury, a missing right arm below his elbow and cognitive deficits. They are suing for an unspecified amount of money.

Ruiz worked in a "clean room" at the fab plant between July 5, 1988, and February 8, 2002. Her son was born in October 1991.

"AMD negligently failed to study, investigate, ascertain, impose or comply with reasonable standards to protect and promote the health and safety of, or minimize the dangers to those in its premises or those coming into contact with these chemicals," wrote Adam Ward, the Ruiz family's attorney, in the plaintiff's petition to the court. "AMD negligently failed to provide a safe place to work."

AMD spokesman Travis Bullard said the company has received a copy of the lawsuit and is reviewing the claims. "We take the health and safety of our employees very seriously. We have a long history of supporting independent research on health and safety in semiconductor manufacturing and are confident in our systems and procedures... Our thoughts go out to Ms. Ruiz and her family, but we do not believe there is any connection between Ms. Ruiz's employment with AMD and her son's medical conditions as alleged in this case," the spokesman said.

According to the petition, Ruiz alleged that before she became pregnant, she sought medical attention on two different occasions for symptoms she said were related to exposure to the chemicals used in the clean room. AMD allegedly told Ruiz that her exposure was within acceptable limits and that the chemicals were safe.

The mother and son are also suing two physicians and a regional medical association for never warning her to avoid exposure to the chemicals, both before and after she became pregnant.

The suit charges AMD with negligence, breach of warranty as to the safety of its workplace and fraudulent concealment of the risks posed by the chemicals used in the plant.

"AMD negligently failed to use chemicals, which were less hazardous, and/or failed to design its facility or use equipment so as to prohibit or minimize the hazards," Ward wrote. "Quite simply, AMD put profits ahead of employee safety, and the safety of its employees' unborn children."

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