Personal-injury-limit bill passes House WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives passed a bill Feb. 2 to limit personal-injury lawsuits against equipment makers, by a 222-to-194 vote.
But even as plastics machinery executives toasted a rare victory for product-liability reform, President Clinton promised to veto the Manufacturing Equipment Revitalization Act if it crosses his desk. The Clinton administration said House Resolution 2005 would "bar the courtroom door" to injured workers.
The bill now moves to the Senate, where the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. is urging members to shift their lobbying effort.
The Clinton administration says it supports attempts to limit frivolous lawsuits, but opposes a federal ban of all lawsuits involving older machinery. The administration also said tort law traditionally has been left to the states.
Officials probe fatal explosion at ERS
NILES, ILL. — Authorities still are investigating the cause of an explosion at Electronic Recovery Specialist Inc. in Niles.
Niles police said a spark may have set off the Jan. 12 explosion as workers were grinding magnesium-rich bullet casings. ERS recovers and recycles metal, plastics and glass from computers, other electronic components and industrial waste.
A company secretary said by telephone Feb. 3 that owner Davis Gilbert would not comment on the current status of the plant's operations.
The incident is being investigated by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Niles police and fire departments.
Of seven workers injured in the explosion, one has died and, as of last week, two were in critical condition. Employee Rafael Flores, 40, died Jan. 19 at Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, Ill., where he was being treated for severe burns.
Gilbert's brother Thomas Gilbert, 40, was treated for severe burns and released from University of Chicago Hospital.
FPA names Marla Donahue its president
WASHINGTON — The Flexible Packaging Association has named Marla Donahue its new president. Donahue had been president of the Paperboard Packaging Council in Alexandria, Va., for three years. She starts at Washington-based FPA on Feb. 28.
Donahue helped streamline PPC and put in place a fiscally responsible budget, FPA said. Before going to PPC, Donahue was vice president of the Foodservice and Packaging Institute, worked in the White House for President Bush and worked at the Can Manufacturers Association, FPA said.
"Marla's background in packaging, politics, trade associations and consulting made her the perfect choice for FPA," FPA Chairman Jeffrey Lammers said in a news release. Lammers is vice president at film extruder and converter Duralam Inc. in Appleton, Wis.
Donahue replaces Glenn Braswell, who resigned in September. Braswell faced a harassment lawsuit from a former employee. A Washington jury awarded the employee $1 million, but a judge tossed out that award.
NLRB to hear accusation against Pactiv
BEECH ISLAND, S.C. — The National Labor Relations Board has scheduled a hearing on allegations that Pactiv Corp. officials had an employee arrested and put in a mental hospital to halt his union activity.
The former worker, Gary McClain, also sued Pactiv in November for $9 million. ABC News' 20/20 program featured his story in a Jan. 28 report.
A Pactiv spokesman said the company reported its concerns about McClain to the Aiken County sheriff, but the company was not responsible for having him arrested or committed.
"We are responsible to protect all the employees ... and in this case we had 17 employees express strong concerns about the behavior of the employee," he said.
The International Union of Operating Engineers, which is trying to organize Pactiv's Beech Island plant, filed four complaints with NLRB. Washington-based NLRB agreed to hear two of the complaints Feb. 28 before an administrative law judge, but threw out the other two charges.
McClain's suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Greenville, N.C., alleges Pactiv of Lake Forest, Ill., unlawfully had him arrested and committed to a mental hospital for trying to organize a union election. McClain worked at Pactiv for 17 years. Pactiv, an independent, publicly held firm, is the former Tenneco Packaging Corp.