Harris County man sues 39 companies for father's benzene exposure

Steve Korris Apr. 26, 2007, 3:00am

George Oliver Tanner of Harris County accuses 39 chemical companies of maliciously killing his father with benzene.

Tanner filed suit in Jefferson County Circuit Court April 23, claiming Jimmie Wayne Tanner died of acute myelogenous leukemia due to benzene exposure.

According to the suit Tanner cleaned tanks and managed spills as a contractor for Mobil, Gulf, Texaco, Unocal, Fine and DuPont in Jefferson County.

His son's attorney, Keith Hyde of Provost & Umphrey in Beaumont, wrote that defendants made, sold and distributed
benzene. He wrote that they failed to prevent Tanner's exposure.

"Defendants provided benzene to Jimmie Tanner to clean tools and equipment," he wrote.

He wrote that they negligently failed to warn him of adverse health effects. He wrote that they neglected to tell him about protective equipment and safe procedures.

He wrote that Tanner did not cause or contribute to his injuries.

He wrote that the defendants acted willfully, wantonly and with conscious disregard for consequences, constituting grounds for punitive damages.

"The acts and omissions by defendants were with malice in that the acts and omissions involved an extreme risk," he wrote.

He asked for punitive damages "in an amount sufficient to punish each defendant consistent with its net worth..."

The suit does not tell when Tanner died. Hyde invoked the "discovery rule," which would wipe out the two year statute of limitations.

"Plaintiff will show that he did not learn the nature of the cause of his illness or injuries or that such injuries were occupationally related, until less than two years prior to the filing of plaintiff's cause of action," he wrote.

George Tanner seeks damages for medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, emotional pain and suffering, physical impairment, loss of income, loss of earning capacity and loss of consortium.

He names as defendants Chevron USA, Premcor Refining Group, Chevron Phillips Chemical, Exxon Mobil, Shell Oil, Shell Chemical, BP Products North America, BP-Amoco Chemical, Arco Oil & Gas, Amoco Oil, Amoco Chemical, Atlantic Richfield, Total Petrochemicals USA, Texaco, Union Oil of California, Sun Oil, DuPont, Union Carbide, Dow Chemical, Crown Cenral Petroleum, Pharmacia, Solutia, Conoco Phillips, Continental Oil, Valero Refining-Texas, Valero Energy, Valero Refining and Marketing, Kerr McGee, Anadarko E & P, Koch Chemical, Flint Hills Resources, Koch Refining, Southwestern Refining, Charter Oil, El Paso Merchant Energy-Petroleum, El Paso Merchant Energy-Gas, El Paso Merchant Energy, and El Paso Merchant Energy North America.

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