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Company ordered to pay 200 million yen to man overworked into coma

OSAKA -- The Osaka District Court has awarded about 200 million yen in damages to a man whose representatives sued a company in Osaka Prefecture, saying that excessive work caused him to suffer a brain hemorrhage that has left him in a coma for the last seven years.

In handing down the ruling, Presiding Judge Atsushi Tanaka said the company, a precision equipment manufacturer in Kadoma, Osaka Prefecture, should have known the work would harm the man's health.

"The company should have realized that the level of work was excessive and could harm his health," the judge said in the ruling.

The 33-year-old man entered the company in April 1998. On April 1, 2001, he was assigned to the production section, and on April 13 the same year, he collapsed at work. He has still not regained consciousness.

After lapsing into the coma, it was learned he had developed a condition known as a cerebral arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a malformed collection of blood vessels in the brain.

During the case, the company said it was not aware he had the condition. The focus of the case had been on the relationship between the brain hemorrhage and the work, and the company's ability to predict the medical condition.

Tanaka accepted that the man had been subjected to excessive work, working 12 days straight and putting in 61 hours of overtime.

"It is overwork that could put even a person with no ailments in danger of suffering a brain hemorrhage," the court ruled, concluding that the company should have lessened the man's workload.

A lawyer representing the man praised the ruling.

"Widely acknowledging the company's responsibility was a breakthrough. It is rare for a court to order such a high amount of compensation," the lawyer said.

(Mainichi Japan) April 29, 2008

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