Toxic exposure claims from welders became a bigger factor forinsurers when a federal jury in Ohio returned a $20.5 millionverdict for a welder who said he was made ill by the fumes from hiswork.

The recent verdict illustrates that welder claims "belong on theemerging risk radar scope as something insurers have to be awareof," said Robert P. Hartwig, president of the Insurance InformationInstitute.

A statement for the five welding rod manufacturers who weredefendants in the case said they would appeal and defend themselvesagainst "baseless claims" and expect to be successful. But DavidShelton, a lawyer for the plaintiff--Jeffery Tamraz, 51, of Grant'sPass, Ore.--characterized the case as a breakthrough and a turningpoint for such suits.

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