Suit alleges death caused by possible benzene exposure

By David Yates | Dec 12, 2007

Matthew Willis

From 1954 to 1982, the late John Ard worked at Texas Gulf Sulfur. After he died of leukemia, Ard's benefactor filed a lawsuit against PCS Phosphate and six oil companies claiming he was negligently exposed to a chemical that could have been benzene.

Ard's daughter, Lavern Maniquez, filed suit against PCS, Shell Oil, Shell Chemical, UNIVAR, ARCO, Atlantic Richfield and BP with the Jefferson County District Court on Dec. 10.

According to the plaintiff's petition, Ard was employed at Texas Gulf Sulfur as a roughneck and later as a loader for tank cars and ships. While working in shipping, Ard was required to clean joints and loading arms using a "cleaning fluid that he believed to be benzene supplied by the product defendants."

"While working for Texas Gulf Sulfur, decedent was exposed to benzene and benzene containing products," the suit said. "Decedent's exposure to these benzene-containing products caused in whole or in part decedent's Acute Myelogenous Leukemia and ultimate death."

Ard worked four months as a roughneck and then started working in the shipping department blending sulfur, loading and unloading trucks, tank cars and barges and ships, the suit said.

"(The defendants) were and are engaged in the business of manufacturing and placing into the stream of commerce toxic and carcinogenic petroleum products and chemicals, including benzene," the suit said. "These said chemicals were…purchased and used by the public, specifically the premises of Texas Gulf Sulfur, wherein John Ard was exposed while working there."

The suit continues by alleging the defendants failed to warn Ard of the reasonably foreseeable dangers of benzene and knew that their products would cause cancer.

The plaintiff is suing for punitive damages, plus Ard's physical pain, mental anguish, pain and funeral expenses.

The plaintiff is demanding a trial by jury and is represented by Provost Umphrey attorney Matthew Willis.

Judge Bob Wortham, 58th Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. A180-877

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