Raytheon Beryllium Suppliers Must Face Suit: 1st Circuit

Recently, a federal appeals court ruled that a former Raytheon Co. plant worker, Suzanne Genereux, and her family will be allowed to proceed with their lawsuit against three beryllium manufacturers. The plaintiffs allege that these manufacturers supplied Raytheon Co. with products that contained beryllium, which caused the plant worker’s chronic beryllium disease (CBD).

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit explained that, “After careful review of the record, we conclude that a reasonable jury could find that the plaintiffs’ common-law claims were timely and that the sophisticated user defense did not relieve the defendants of liability.”

According to the district court, the statute of limitations began running when Genereux first consulted her doctor about a potential CBD infection and ended just three days before she filed her lawsuit. The question here is whether or not she had sufficient notice that her CBD was caused by the beryllium manufacturers’ conduct. Before she was diagnosed, Genereux might have contributed the symptoms to asthma.

In the mid-1980’s she had been hospitalized on several different occasions for asthma and upper respiratory illnesses. It wasn’t until 2002 that she was diagnosed with CBD.