Benzene blamed for lab tech's lymphoma

David Yates Jul. 24, 2007, 11:00am

Darren Brown

For nearly 40 years Paul Strother worked at a B.F. Goodrich Co. laboratory as a technician. 23 years after he retired, Strother died of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Blaming his benefactor's death on "needless benzene exposure," J. Frances Strother is suing Shell Oil and 24 other major chemical companies.

Provost Umphrey attorney Darren Brown filed the personal injury lawsuit on Frances behalf with the Jefferson County District Court on July 20.

According to the plaintiffs' original petition, from 1943 to 1983 Paul worked for a Goodrich lab in Port Neches, "where he was needlessly exposed to benzene, benzene containing materials, butadiene, and other carcinogenic chemicals."

"Further, plaintiffs would show that the deceased sustained severe and permanent personal injuries from (Benzene) exposure in the form of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, which subsequently led to his death on August 3, 2006," the suit said. "Paul was unaware of the carcinogenic nature and unreasonably dangerous nature of the products and the chemicals to which he was exposed."

Paul would have been more than 80-years-old when the cancer claimed his life.

According to the American Cancer Society, a person has a 1 in 50 chance of developing Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Most of the time, this cancer affects adults, and its cause is unknown. High-risk groups include those who have received an organ transplant or who have a weakened immune system. The cancer is more common in men than women.

Frances and his lawyer Brown allege the defendants negligently failed to warn Paul Strother of the known and/or reasonably foreseeable dangers of contracting a disease or blood disorder, by exposure to benzene, and failed to provide him protective equipment.

Some of the defendants listed in the suit include Shell Oil, BP-Amoco Chemical Co., Texaco, Exxon/Mobil, and Union Oil.

The suit also faults the defendants for manufacturing benzene products and placing them in "the stream of commerce."

"At all times, the defendants knew they were exposing Paul Strother and other to chemicals which might cancer and other disease agents, and yet they took no reasonable s steps…to eliminated or reduce the dangers," the suit said.

Paul's benefactor is suing for his physical pain, mental anguish, medical expenses, loss of consortium, physical impairment, disfigurement, punitive damage and funeral expenses.

Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th Judicial District, will preside over the case.

Case No. D179-696

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