Despite special exceptions, discovery in benzene suit continuing

David Yates May 3, 2012, 9:18am


Although Chevron USA Claims it never employed Fred Gebauer, who allegedly died from benzene exposure, the oil company is still proceeding with discovery in the case.

As previously reported, Keith Gebauer, Ronnie Gebauer, Lajunda Williams and Gaytha Guillot filed a lawsuit Aug. 31 in Jefferson County District Court against Chevron and Texaco, claiming their father died from lymphoma which he developed after a career of working near products that contained benzene.

In their suit, the plaintiffs allege their father, Fred Gebauer, was exposed to "toxic and carcinogenic" benzene and benzene-containing products throughout his career at Texaco. As a result, Gebauer developed Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and died on Feb. 7, 2011.

On April 11 the plaintiffs submitted their answers to Chevron and Texaco's master interrogatories and requests for production, court records show.

Court records further show that on Oct. 24 Chevron had filed its answer and special exceptions, asserting that the company is not a proper party in the lawsuit.

"Chevron USA is improperly sued because it is a separate entity from Texaco and Texaco is the alleged employer of Fred Gebauer, not Chevron USA," the answer states, adding that "there are no allegations it has any other connection to this lawsuit."

The discovery request was jointly filed by Chevron and Texaco, court papers say.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs blame the defendants for causing their father's death, saying they negligently allowed their employees to work around the chemicals despite the defendants' knowledge of the potential hazards of exposure. In addition, the defendants failed to warn of the dangers of exposure to benzene.

The plaintiffs seek punitive and exemplary damages, plus costs.

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

Beaumont attorney Michael Bridwell of the Strong Pipkin Bissell & Ledyard law firm represent the defendants.

Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court, is assigned to the case.

Case No. D190-777

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