Benzene blamed for seaman's lymphoma

By Marilyn Tennissen | Jun 7, 2007

From 1969 to 1999, Larry Areceneaux was a seaman on various vessels sailing the Gulf of Mexico.

Arceneaux claims that during that time he was exposed to benzene, which led to a diagnosis of small lymphatic lymphoma on Sept. 15, 2006. He is now suing Boswell Oil Co., Kirby Inland Marine, Magnolia Towing, Port Arthur Towing and others under the Jones Act.

The lawsuit, filed June 5 in Jefferson County District Court, alleges that defendants were should have known of the health hazards of exposure to benzene and benzene-containing products.

According to the plaintiff's original petition, plaintiff will show that the defendants are guilty of negligence as follows: failing to provide crew members with a safe workplace, failing to provide an adequate crew and adequate safety equipment, failing to provide respirators to crew members who worked with or around benzene, failing to provide adequate information to and training of the crew, failing to provide adequate supervision of the crew, failing to conduct monitoring of the crew members to determine exposure to benzene and other acts or omissions.

The suit alleges that the vessels were unseaworthy and not fit for their intended use, and that the disease and damages of the plaintiff are a "direct and proximate result." The ship owners also allegedly committed fraud by concealing the extent of the health risks posed to the plaintiff.

Areceneaux seeks damages of at least $75,000 for physical pain, mental anguish, hospital and medical expenses, physical impairment, partial disability, lost wages and benefits and enjoyment of life. He also says he is entitled to recovery from defendants under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, which is a legal term meaning "the thing speaks for itself."

Randall Collins of the Law Offices of Herschel L. Hobson in Beaumont is representing Areceneaux. Plaintiff is requesting a trial by jury.

Case No. B179-443

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