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Journalists Name Computer Maker in Injury Lawsuit

June 16, 1990 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ Eight journalists filed a $270 million lawsuit against a computer maker on Friday, contending they suffered disabling injuries from using the company’s word processors in newsrooms.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, charged that Atex Publishing Systems, a subsidiary of the Eastman Kodak Co., was negligent in marketing the computers and had failed to warn users of the dangers or to develop substitute systems.

It also alleged that the company ″ignored, suppressed or disregarded″ medical studies about ″the causal relationship between the repetitive use of computer systems and cumulative trauma disorders.″

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The journalists, each seeking $20 million in punitive damages and $10 million in compensatory damages, included two from Newsday, two from American Banker and individual staffers at The Associated Press, New York Newsday, The Village Voice and Discount Store News.

Three spouses also asked $10 million each for loss of companionship, bringing the total number of plaintiffs to 11.

None of the employers were named as defendants. Ruth Marcus, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said New York state law provides that workers cannot sue employers for work-related injuries but must pursue such claims through workmen’s compensation.

Eastman Kodak spokesman John Labella said the company had no comment, ″as our attorneys have not yet seen the suit.″

It was the second lawsuit filed in New York this month against the company, which manufactures computer systems designed for use in newsrooms. Three reporters and an editor at New York Newsday demanded $40 million in a negligence suit filed June 4 in Manhattan Supreme Court, the newspaper reported Friday.

Marcus said there were ″very few″ such lawsuits to date, ″but on the other hand it has become a very serious and pervasive problem.″

The suit alleged the eight journalists ″developed and suffered severe, permanent and disabling cumulative trauma disorders, as well as psychological injuries,″ from repeated use of the Atex video display terminals.

It said cumulative trauma disorders included ″repetitive strain injuries, musculoskeletal and nerve disorders, upper extremity pain syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis and other injuries to the upper extremities.″

The eight journalists named as plaintiffs are: Susan Harrigan of New York Newsday, Laurie Garrett and Sandra Peddie of Newsday, Martha Gioumousis of Discount Store News, Kathy Silberger of The Village Voice, Wendy Grover and David Neustadt of American Banker and Anne Buckley of The Associated Press.

The other plaintiffs are Harrigan’s husband, Peter Benjaminson; Peddie’s husband, Brian Quinn, and Neustadt’s wife Maisie McAdoo.