A local judge approved a discovery control plan in a benzene lawsuit against 13 companies on Dec. 19, slating the case for a trial in early 2013.

Lee Bertrand and his wife Sally filed suit against DuPont de Nemours and 12 other companies on March 28 in Jefferson County District Court, alleging the defendants manufactured and sold benzene products which allegedly caused the man's cancer.

Court records show that on Dec. 19 Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court, signed off on the control plan, which sets the deadline for mediation on July 15, 2012.

The order also puts the discovery cutoff at Dec. 1, 2012, and places the trial date on the court's February 2013 docket.

Bertrand says in his suit that throughout a period of many years up to the late 1990s, he was employed as an independent contractor at DuPont and ExxonMobil facilities in Beaumont.

During his employment, he alleges he was exposed to benzene products. In August, Bertrand was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma of the kidney, court records show.

The suit blames the defendants for negligently placing benzene products into the stream of commerce, exposing workers such as Bertrand to carcinogenic compounds.

The other defendants named in the suit include CRC Industries, Dow Chemical, Ineos Chlor America, Brance Krachy, Vallen Safety, Able Fastener, McJunkin-Cambar, Wilson Industries, PPG Industries, Exxon-Mobil, ExxonMobil Oil and Mobil Oil.

The plaintiffs are suing for punitive and exemplary damages.

Beaumont attorney Darren Brown of Provost Umphrey represents them.

Case No. D189-664

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