Exxon Mobil sued over benzene exposure

Marilyn Tennissen Mar. 21, 2007, 12:00pm

After being diagnosed with leukemia, Kent Patin, a refinery worker, has filed a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil for allowing him to be exposed to toxic chemicals.

The suit, filed in Jefferson County on March 1, names Exxon Mobil Corporation, BP-Amoco Chemical Company, BP Products North America Inc., Arco Oil & Gas Company, Atlantic Richfield Company and Conoco Phillips Company as defendants.

Patin, a resident of Thorndale, worked as an instrument engineer for various contractors at refineries in Texas for more than 30 years. The plaintiffs' original petition states that during his employment, Patin
was exposed to benzene and benzene-containing products at defendants' facilities, which resulted in the development of non-Hodgkins lymphoma and anemia.

The companies were negligent for failing to warn Patin of the adverse health effects of the chemical exposure and failing to provide personal protective equipment and safe work procedures, according to the petition.

In addition, the defendants failed to reduce the hazardous emissions, did not perform adequate medical monitoring of employees and failed to enforce safety policies or train personnel in protection from benzene.

"Defendants knew, actually or constructively, or should have known, that their chemicals have the potential for causing cancer and other chronic diseases that could result in death or serious bodily injury," the petition states.

Because the defendants acted willfully and with conscious disregard for the consequences, the petition states that is grounds to seek punitive or examplary damages up to four times the actual damages.

The plaintiff asks that the court and jury determine the amount of loss he has incurred in the past and will incur in the future, not only from a financial standpoint, but also in terms of anguish and other elements of damage.

Patin'wife, Julia Patin, is also named as plaintiff in the suit and seeks to recover damages for loss of consortium, which the jury will be shown is the mutual right of a husband and wife to affection, comfort, companionship, society and sexual relations necessary to a successful marriage.

Rodney Barnwell of the Provost Umphrey Law Firm is representing the plaintiffs.

Jefferson County 58th District Court Judge Robert Wortham has been assigned the case.

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