Benzene lawsuit names 41 companies as defendants

David Yates Jul. 16, 2008, 7:19am

Darren Brown

A local couple is pursuing a benzene claim against 41 chemical and oil companies that they allege failed to adequately test their products before placing them on the market.

A cancer victim, longtime E.I. DuPont de Nemours employee Tommy Hebert, along with his wife Mary, filed suit against AMCO and 40 other companies July 15 in Jefferson County District Court.

Hebert says in court papers that his form of cancer -- chronic lymphocytic leukemia -- was caused by benzene exposure.

Defendants in the case include ARCO, BP, ExxonMobil and Texaco, however DuPont is not named in the suit.

"Plaintiff was a long-term … DuPont employee at its Beaumont Works plant … where he worked in the lab and as a technician," the suit says. "During his employment, Hebert was needlessly exposed to benzene and benzene containing products. As a result of such exposures, Mr. Hebert developed a deadly cancer known as CLL."

In their suit, the Heberts fault the defendants for failing to warn them of the "foreseeable health hazards associated with exposure to benzene," and failing to conduct appropriate epidemiological studies on the affects of benzene.

"The (benzene) products were placed into the stream of commerce by the defendants who … provided dangerous products to … DuPont, Mr. Hebert's employer," the lawsuit says.

"Said chemicals were in an unreasonably dangerous and defective condition when sold by the defendants due to their design, manufacturing, and manner in which they were marketed."

The suit faults all the defendants with negligence and strict liability.

The plaintiffs are suing for punitive damages, mental anguish, medical expenses and loss of consortium.

They are demanding a trial by jury and are represented by Provost Umphrey attorney Darren Brown.

Judge Gary Sanderson of the 60th Judicial District has been assigned to the case.

Case No. B182-055

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