A Beaumont judge will soon decide on whether to grant Goodyear Tire & Rubber summary judgment in a benzene lawsuit brought by local residents Robert Fontenot and his wife, who sued Goodyear and 15 other companies for allegedly exposing Fontenot to benzene throughout his career.

The suit was filed Feb. 4, 2014, in Jefferson County District Court.

Court records show that on Oct. 10 Goodyear filed an amended answer, asserting the plaintiffs’ claims are barred by the two-year statute of limitations, as Fontenot’s diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia occurred at or prior to 2002.

Goodyear followed the answer up by filing a motion for summary judgment. A hearing on the matter was held Feb. 3.

Although no ruling was issued, Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court, told the parties he would take Goodyear’s motion under advisement, according to a courthouse official.

The lawsuit alleges that Fontenot worked as a contractor in Southeast Texas, where he was occupationally exposed benzene and as a result developed chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

The suit accuses the defendants of manufacturing, selling and using benzene products without warning Fontenot of the danger.

Alleging the defendants acted in disregard of Fontenot’s wellbeing, the plaintiffs are suing for punitive damages.

The other defendants named in the lawsuit include ExxonMobil, ExxonMobil Oil, Mobil Oil, Chevron USA, Texaco, Huntsman Petrochemical, Total Petrochemicals, Shell Oil, Shell Chemical, Atlantic Richfield, BP Amoco, BP Products North America and Union Oil Company of California.

Attorney Keith Hyde of the Beaumont law firm Provost Umphrey represents the plaintiffs.

Houston attorney David A. Oliver of Vorys Sater Seymour & Pease LLP represents Goodyear.

Case No. D193-890

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