80-year-old dies of leukemia, benefactor sues for benzene exposure

David Yates May 2, 2007, 1:00pm

Shirley Jeanis, the executrix of the estate of Alfred Jeanis, is suing the Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., along with 28 other petrochemical suppliers, for exposing Alfred Jeanis to benzene.

A pipe-fitter/welder at the Dupont and Texaco refineries in Port Arthur from 1942 through 1980, Alfred Jeanis was near the age of 80 when he died of myelogenous leukemia, stated Shirley Jeanis' petition, filed with the Jefferson County District Court on April 20.

"The defendants were aware of their chemical emissions, such as benzene and products containing benzene, and that defendants released these chemicals into the ambient air knowing that such emissions�would be absorbed and inhaled by Alfred," the suit said.

"This exposure resulted in Alfred's developing�leukemia, and his untimely death on July 16, 2006."

The petition charges the defendants with strict liability, negligence (failing to exercise ordinary care), gross negligence (failing to provide a safe workplace) and knowingly exposing employees to cancerous benzene (fraudulent concealment).

"Defendants (behavior) reflects an actual conscious indifference towards the rights, safety and welfare of others," the suit said. "Defendants knew for decades that (benzene) exposure could cause disease of the hematopoetic system."

The suit does not state why Alfred Jeanis never chose to file a lawsuit against his former employer(s) while he was alive.

Shirley Jeanis is demanding a trial by jury and is represented by the Law Offices of Herschel L. Hobson.

"As early as 1970, Hobson had committed himself to protecting working men and women in Texas from chemical exposure both in the work place and the home environment," the firm's Web site said.

Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd Judicial District, will preside over the case.

Case No. E179-177

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