Family of deceased worker sues Texaco, Chevron for benzene exposure

David Yates Oct. 14, 2008, 6:55am

Keith Hyde

Two years after their father's death, the children of Joseph Baker Jr. have filed a suit against Texaco and Chevron, claiming the companies maliciously exposed him to benzene.

On behalf of her father, Mildred Baker filed the suit Oct. 13 in Jefferson County District Court.

Court documents show that Joseph Baker Jr. was employed by Texaco in Jefferson County, but the suit does not list employment dates.

"During his employment (Baker) used and was exposed to toxic and carcinogenic benzene and benzene-containing products," the suit says. "As a result of such exposure Joseph Baker Jr. developed lymphoma from which he died a painful and terrible death on Oct. 14, 2006."

The suit goes on to allege that the defendant knew for decades that toxic benzene could cause deadly blood conditions and cancers and still allowed their employees, such as Baker, to work with the chemical.

"The defendant failed to timely and adequately warn workers of the dangers of said chemicals. The defendant failed to take the necessary engineering, safety, industrial hygiene and other precautions and provide adequate warning and training to ensure that the deceased was not exposed to said toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, including benzene," the suit says.

"As a result of the aforementioned gross negligence of the defendant, plaintiff asserts claims for all elements of damages allowable under the law including exemplary damages and seeks to recover from the defendant, an amount in excess of the jurisdictional limits of this court."

The plaintiffs are represented by Provost Umphrey attorney Keith Hyde.

The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd of the 172nd District Court.

Case No. E182-528

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