For Embattled Boeing Doctor’s Family, A Posthumous Vindication

Employees at Boeing’s plants in the Puget Sound region have long been at risk of “serious illness — including sterility, fetal abnormalities, stillbirth, life-long chronic illness, cancer, and death” due to “uncontrolled chemical exposure,” according to an investigative article published by in November 2022.

The article said that three plaintiffs, born between 1980 and 2014, had filed lawsuits alleging their birth defects were linked to chemicals their parents were exposed to while working at Boeing facilities. In October 2022, one plaintiff agreed to an undisclosed out-of-court settlement, while the other two lawsuits were pending.

According to an article published in January 2023 by Cascadia Daily News, a plan to help prevent such birth defect risks was outlined in 1980 by Dr. Barry Dunphy, then medical director at the Boeing Company in Renton, Washington, in an attempt to warn company officials of the health hazards.

Company Officials Disregarded Warnings About Health Risks

The Cascadia Daily News reported that Dunphy “later called his attempt ‘disastrous’ in typewritten notes, remarking that the company president ‘did not appear at all sympathetic or indeed faintly happy’ about having ‘this organizational problem brought to his attention.’”

Dunphy’s family said that although the doctor remained at Boeing until he retired early in 1993, he gave up his role as medical director and spent much of his life at home alone in his workshop because of the ignored warnings by Boeing Company management.

“I’ve been to the top, and I didn’t like the view,” Mary Dunphy recalled her husband, who died two years ago, saying. She added, “He was very frustrated and disappointed that the things he had passed onto them fell on deaf ears.”

Scott Dunphy, Dr. Dunphy’s son, said the birth defects lawsuits provide “some posthumous vindication. That the things that he cared about were real. That some way, somehow, an important story, and picture that he was trying to paint, got out. And the things that he worked so hard and passionately for — he was seeing what could happen in the future. That the values he stood for were the right ones.”

Despite Ignored Warnings, Doctor’s Commitment to Health Continued

Even though he was obviously frustrated with Boeing management, Dunphy continued to work at the company and did his best to help employees, all of whom he considered his patients.

“He was a man of honor,” Liz Dunphy, Dr. Dunphy’s daughter, said. “And I don’t believe he would have shared any things with us that we shouldn’t have been privy to, related to work and confidences. We just know from some of his side comments that it was difficult. But what I personally took from that was the importance of courage, to stand up and do what was right.”

His four children described him as “a pioneer in his field of occupational medicine — someone who wasn’t willing to ‘play politics’ and saw early on that it would be more valuable to protect workers from harm than to pay for it later.”

Dunphy’s wife said, “Preventative medicine was primarily what it was about, what he was trying to do at Boeing.”

Kathryn Nord, an analyst who worked with Dunphy at Boeing, said he cared about both the company and the workers. “I think he cared for both of them — he thought Boeing was a good company, and he thought workers were human beings that needed to be protected…It’s not like he was working for one or the other.”

How We Help Victims of Boeing Toxic Exposure 

The attorneys of our birth defect victims’ alliance understand the pain that families face when coping with life-altering birth defects—and the frustration of knowing they could have been prevented. Our team has over 40 years of combined experience in birth defects litigation in cases involving semiconductor and electronics manufacturing, pesticides, and energy production. We have the resources and experience to fight on behalf of our clients against corporations like Boeing which put them in danger. Call us to see how we can help you and your family receive justice for birth defects.