Seaman says work around benzene caused his lymphoma

Marilyn Tennissen May 24, 2007, 11:00am

Keith Hyde

For 20 years, David Dinnes was employed as an able-bodied seaman on various vessels.

During that time, Dinnes says he was exposed to benzene and various benzene-containing products which he claims contributed to his development of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Dinnes and his wife, Suzanne, have filed a lawsuit against 18 employers including Kirby Marine Transporation Company and 13 producer companies including Texaco. The suit was filed May 22 in Jefferson County District Court. Judge Bob Wortham of the 58th District Court has been assigned to the case.

The original petition states that Dinnes was exposed to benzene emissions from loading and unloading products on defendants's ships. The vessels were used to transport benzene gasoline, crude oil and condensate to and from facilities in Texas in other points in the United States.

"Plaintiff would show that he sustained severe and permanent personal injuries from said exposure in the form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma," the suit says.

Under the Jones Act, Dinnes claims the defendants are negligent for failing to provide a safe place to work, failing to warn about the harmful nature of the products and failing to provide adequate respiratory devices.

The suit also cites the defendants for premises liability and product liability.

Dinnes seeks damages for: physical pain and suffering in the past and future, mental anguish in the past and future, medical expenses, physical impairment, disfigurement, lost wages, lost earning capacity and other damages.

"The Defendants' negligent conduct is more than momentary thoughtlessness or invadvertence. Rather, Defendants acted with a conscious indifference or reckless disregard for the rights, safety and welfare of Plaintffs," the suit alleges.

Because of that, the petition states, plaintiffs assert a cause of action for gross negligence, "for which the law allows the imposition of punitive damages."

In addition, Suzanne Dinnes asserts her individual cause of action for loss of consortium.

The petition asks that the court determine the amount of the loss she has suffered and determine the sum of money for each separate element that will reasonably compensate Suzanne Dinnes for the injuries and damages and losses incurred.

Plaintiffs are seeking a trial by jury and are being represented by Keith Hyde of Provost Umphrey Law Firm.

Case No. A179-360

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