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Settlement Announced In Lawsuit Over Electromagnetic Pulse Radiation

August 16, 1990

SEATTLE (AP) _ The Boeing Co. has agreed to pay more than $500,000 to a worker who claimed his leukemia was caused by exposure to radiation during company tests, the man’s lawyers said.

Robert Strom alleged the aerospace company used him to test the effects of electromagnetic pulse radiation, a blast of electrical energy created during a nuclear explosion.

Under the settlement, Boeing and a co-defendant, Lovelace Biomedical and Environmental Research Institute, also will pay another $200,000 to support up to 10 years’ of medical examinations for more than 700 other Boeing workers who joined in Strom’s class-action lawsuit, Strom’s attorney, Michael Withey, said Wednesday.

Strom was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia in 1985, and he blamed the illness on what he said was chronic exposure to EMP from 1983 to 1985.

In his 1988 lawsuit, Strom alleged Boeing used him as a guinea pig to test the effects of the radiation.

Strom, an electronics technician who worked on EMP tests at Boeing, also alleged in his suit that Boeing didn’t tell him and other workers of potential health hazards of working with the health hazards of working with the radiation, even though it knew there was a potential danger. The suit later was expanded to include other present and former Boeing workers.

Boeing has said it tested the effects of EMP on electronics in military aircraft and communications equipment. It has denied using Strom or anyone else as a human research subject.

Medical authorities disagree on whether electromagnetic radiation can cause cancer or other health problems, and what level of exposure might pose a risk. Electromagnetic fields are given off by many electric devices, including power lines, transformers, video screens and home appliances, but at far lower levels than the pulses from nuclear explosions.

The state Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals in 1988 denied Strom’s claim that his leukemia was caused by the testing.

The lawsuit had been scheduled to go to trial this week, but the settlement was tentatively approved Wednesday morning by King County Superior Court Judge Mary Wicks Brucker, Withey said.

Under the settlement, Boeing admitted no liability and none of the allegations in the lawsuit.

″The settlement will spare the Stroms and Boeing from what would be a great expense in both time and money,″ said Boeing spokesman Russ Young.

″I’m very pleased at this incredible victory,″ said Strom, who continues to work at Boeing but on commercial aircraft.

He said his leukemia worsened about a year and a half ago, but ″I’ve outlived the prognosis of my doctors.″

Brucker is to hear any objections to the settlement and decide whether to give it final approval at a Sept. 21 hearing.


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