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Coene v. 3M Company

United States District Court for the Western District of New York
2017 WL 1046749 (2017)


Facts

Kodak technician Robert Coene (plaintiff) spent 80 percent of his time 3D-printing prototype camera parts. The process uses lasers that selectively melt or sinter powders into solids. Kodak used two types of powder, both 50 percent glass (silica) and nylon or resin. Powdered silica is either amorphous or crystalline. Inhaling crystalline silica causes silicosis. Kodak used amorphous silica, but powder sold as amorphous often contains up to 20 percent crystalline, and heating amorphous silica may crystallize it. While printing, sandblasting, and brushing the parts, Coene wore a 3M respirator mask intended to prevent inhaling the dust but developed silicosis and lung scarring. Coene sued 3M Company (defendant), claiming that the mask failed. Coene retained medical expert and toxicologist Dr. Meggs, who reviewing Kodak’s 3D-printing process, the powders used, technical literature on sintering and silica crystallization, and Coene’s medical records. Meggs concluded the sintering created crystalline silica, causing Coene’s silicosis, and nylon and resin dust contributed to his lung scarring. 3M requested summary judgment, arguing that Meggs was not qualified as an expert on whether Coene’s inhaling toxic dust while wearing the 3M mask caused his injuries, making Meggs’s opinion unreliable and inadmissible.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Geraci, C.J.)

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