Family claims refinery worker died from benzene exposure at local plant

Kelly Holleran Jan. 21, 2009, 7:47am

The family of a deceased refinery worker has filed suit against Chevron USA, alleging the man was wrongfully exposed to benzene and other toxic chemicals at the plant which eventually caused his leukemia.

Alice Thibeaux, Bria Lynch and Ollie Thibeaux Jr. claim Ollie Thibeaux Sr. worked for Gulf Oil, later called Chevron, in Jefferson County where he was allegedly exposed to toxic and carcinogenic benzene and benzene-containing products.

Because of his exposure, Thibeaux developed leukemia and died a "painful and terrible death" on June 28, 2007," according to the complaint filed Jan. 13 in Jefferson County District Court.

Even though Chevron knew the chemicals could cause deadly blood conditions and cancers, it still allowed its employees to work around the products, the family claims.

The complaint alleges that the oil company failed to timely and adequately warn workers of the dangers of the chemicals and failed to take necessary precautions and provide adequate warning to ensure workers were not exposed to the products.

The Thibeauxs and Lynch are seeking unspecified exemplary and punitive damages, plus interest at the legal rate and other relief to which they may be entitled.

J. Keith Hyde of Provost and Umphrey Law Firm in Beaumont will be representing them.

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

Case No. D183-019

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