Benzene case to be heard on forum before Moran

Steve Gonzalez Dec. 6, 2005, 5:10am

Madison County Circuit Judge George Moran will hear a motion to dismiss a Colorado man's benzene suit against 91 defendants on Friday, Dec. 16.

Dan Arnold filed the 18-count lawsuit in Madison County Circuit Court on Sept. 9 alleging that his exposure to benzene and benzene-containing materials and products caused him to develop acute mylogenous leukemia (AML).

Arnold claims he was diagnosed with the illness in June 2004. He is seeking damages in excess of $1 million.

Some of the defendants asking that the suit be dismissed based on forum non conveniens include WD-40, Citgo, Flint Hills and 3M.

According to Arnold's complaint, venue is proper because one or more of the defendants do business in Madison County, and some of the claims occurred in Madison County.

Arnold is represented by Ted Gianaris and Timothy Thompson of SimmonsCooper in East Alton.

The complaint states that Arnold worked in Morris, Joliet, Mazon and Pontiac. He received deliveries that originated from Shell Oil in Wood River and Clark Oil in Hartford.

According to a recent posting on the SimmonsCooper weblog, "It's Just Plain Wrong," the plaintiff's firm is "being attacked by friends of the defendants for filing in Madison County, supposedly because we can get a more sympathetic jury there.

"Supposedly, Mr. Arnold was only in Madison County from time to time," the blog states. "Wrong!

"The facts prove that Mr. Arnold's exposure to benzene was equally great, and maybe greater, in Madison County as in any other county in Illinois. For sure, his exposure to benzene in Madison County was greater than his exposure to benzene in Colorado, where Mr. Arnold now lives."

The blog claims the case was filed in Madison County because SimmonsCooper's office is located in the county.

"Some people find it very inconvenient to talk about leukemia and benzene," the blog states. "They'd rather talk about forum shopping. About lawyers' tricks.

"But Mr. Arnold's tragedy, and the tragedy of all benzene victims, won't go unanswered just because our opponents would rather change the subject."

Arnold claims that during the course of his employment and during non-occupational work projects he was exposed to and inhaled, ingested or otherwise absorbed benzene fumes emanating from products he was working with, which were sold or distributed by the defendants.

Benzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon that is produced by the burning of natural products. It is a component of products derived from coal and petroleum and is found in gasoline and other fuels and is used to make some types of rubbers, lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs and pesticides.

Natural sources of benzene include volcanoes and forest fires. Benzene also is a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke.

According to the complaint, Arnold will continue to suffer a disability and disfigurement, medical expenses, physical pain and mental anguish, impairment in the enjoyment of recreational activities and lost wages.

Arnold's wife, Cindy, also claims she has suffered interference with, and impairment of their marital relationship and all of those elements of married life she was accustomed to receiving including, support, devotion, care, society and consortium.

Moran will hear the motion at 9 a.m.

05 L 812

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Maplewood, MN 55119

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