Nederland family blames 11 companies for man's benzene exposure

Kelly Holleran Nov. 3, 2010, 5:00pm


The wife and five children of a Nederland man blame benzene for causing their husband's and father's death.

Anite Juneau, Michael James Juneau, Don Juneau, Chris Juneau, Brenda Melancon and Sharon Williams filed a lawsuit Oct. 20 in Jefferson County District Court against 11 defendant companies.

The plaintiffs claim Earl Juneau worked near benzene-containing products during his jobs as a process operator, shift foreman, relief department foreman, shift foreman, utility coordinator supervisor and operator.

As a result of his exposure to the benzene, Earl Juneau developed lymphoma and died on Feb. 17, 2009, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs blame the defendant companies for causing Earl Juneau's death, claiming defendants knew of the dangers and diseases linked to benzene exposure, but allowed their employees to continue to work around the substance.

In addition, the defending companies failed to warn Earl Juneau of the hazards of working near the chemical and failed to provide proper protective gear, the suit states.

Defending companies that supplied the benzene-containing products -- Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Fisher Scientific Company, Fisher Scientific International, Marathon Oil Company, Shell Chemical and Texaco -- wrongfully allowed the products to be placed into the stream of commerce, the complaint says. The plaintiffs accuse the supplier defendants of strict liability.

They say the remaining defendant companies -- Koppers, Atlantic Richfield, Beazer East and BP Products -- allowed Earl Juneau to work around the defective products.

"These Defendants have not only demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice human beings such as Earl Juneau, but they have inexcusably neglected to develop new technology and methods, and made no effort to ascertain the dangers of their products in the workplace," the complaint says.

"The conduct of Defendants, as detailed above, indicates a conscious disregard for the health, welfare and safety of others and has resulted in untold human suffering, needlessly sacrificed lives and great economic loss in the form of expensive health care."

In their complaint, the plaintiffs seek punitive and other, unspecified damages; interest at the legal rate; costs; and other relief the court deems just.

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

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

Jefferson County District Court case number: E188-643

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