Family of refinery worker sues Texaco, Chevron for benzene exposure

David Yates Mar. 20, 2008, 6:29am

Keith Hyde

Alfred Willis, a former Texaco employee, died of lymphoma last January. Now, his wife, Betty Wills, and child, Alpha Shine, are suing the oil company, which they claim negligently exposed him to benzene.

The suit was filed in the Jefferson County District Court on March 19.

According to the plaintiff's petition, during Willis employment with Texaco at its Port Arthur refinery, he used and was exposed to toxic and carcinogenic benzene.

"As a result of such exposure, Wills developed Lymphoma from which he died a painful and terrible death on Jan. 21, 2007," the suit said.

"The Defendants knew for decades that … benzene could cause deadly blood conditions and cancers and still allowed their employees … to work with and around such products in the workplace while knowing there existed to a substantial certainty that workers … would be exposed and would likely develop a deadly cancer."

The suit goes on to allege that Texaco failed to take the necessary engineering and safety precautions and provide adequate warning and training to ensure that Louviere was not exposed to benzene.

"In view of Defendant's actual knowledge of the deadly hazards of benzene, amounts to gross neglect or malice under Texas law," the suit said.

"As a result of the aforementioned gross negligence of the Defendant, Plaintiffs assert claims for all elements of damages allowable under the law including exemplary damages and seeks to recover from the Defendants, an amount in excess of the jurisdictional limits of this Court."

The plaintiffs are demanding a trial by jury and are represented by Provost Umphrey attorney Keith Hyde.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gary Sanderson, 58th Judicial District.

Case No. B181-449

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