Ex-IBM manager refutes former workers’ testimony

JAN. 30–SANTA CLARA, Calif.–A former IBM manager contradicted a plaintiff’s testimony Wednesday in the toxic-chemicals litigation against the computer giant.

Karl Aitken, who worked for IBM for 11 years, in 1986 and 1987 supervised plaintiff Alida Hernandez when she worked in the disk-coating area at IBM’s Cottle Road facilities.

Hernandez, 73, and Jim Moore, 62, are suing IBM, contending that they got cancer as a result of systemic chemical poisoning. They say IBM knew they were becoming ill from working around toxic chemicals at the company’s disk-drive manufacturing facilities in San Jose but concealed that knowledge from them.

According to the Mercury News of San Jose, Aitken, who now works at Cisco Systems as a supply-operations manager, was called as a defense witness and testified that he discussed medical tests taken by IBM’s medical department with Hernandez. The tests, part of an IBM medical exam, showed that she had elevated liver enzymes, which could have been related to her work around toxic chemicals. She was temporarily reassigned to another work area outside the clean room, and her liver enzymes were monitored in follow-up tests.

“Alida and I sat down and discussed it and I let her know she could not return to her normal job,” Aitken said.

Testifying in November, Hernandez said that while she was working at IBM, no one informed her that she had a liver disorder. She also said she did not understand why she was being reassigned to a different job, and that she asked if there was anything wrong with her work.

Aitken testified he did not conceal any health information from Hernandez and that he talked to her about the possible relationship between the solvents she worked with and her elevated liver enzymes. He said after she temporarily left disk coating, she was not happy working in administration, where she was moved for a few months while her liver was monitored.


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