NY man's benzene case settles day before jurisdiction hearing

Steve Korris Jul. 13, 2006, 3:05am

SimmonsCooper law firm settled benzene exposure claims of a New York state resident against about 70 companies in Madison County Circuit Court, a day before a scheduled hearing on a challenge to the court's jurisdiction.

Wegman's Food Markets of Rochester, N.Y., had set a June 29 hearing before Circuit Judge Lola Maddox on a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.

On June 28 SimmonsCooper attorneys told Maddox they had settled with all defendants.

Settlement keeps Maddox from hearing the motions of Wegman's Food Markets and other defendants to send the suit to a different court.

In fact, no judge heard a defense motion of any kind in the case in 14 months.

Plaintiff John Bedrin of Holley, N.Y., sued 122 companies in April 2005. He had worked in New York state from 1964 to 1998.

SimmonsCooper's Tim Thompson claimed Bedrin contracted leukemia from inhaling or ingesting benzene.

In seven months Bedrin dismissed defendants Dow Corning, Ciba Specialty, CPS Chemical, Getty Petroleum, Charter Oil, El Paso Tennessee Pipeline, Tennessee Gas Pipeline, Chevron Texas, Texaco Chemical, Atofina Petrochemicals, Sun Oil, Huntsman Corporation, ExxonMobil, Marathon Ashland, and Aux Sable Liquid Products.

While some defendants settled, more defendants challenged the court's jurisdiction.

Turtle Wax, Conoco Phillips, Phillips Petroleum, Air Products and Chemicals, Koch Industries, General Electric, BP Corporation North America, Lyondell-Citgo Refining, Shell Oil, Premcor Refining, 3M, Arkema, Crown Central, Delphi Automotive, Nova Chemicals, Citgo, South Hampton Refining, Ethyl Corporation, du Pont and Shell Oil moved to dismiss.

Circuit Judge George Moran set the motions for hearing Aug. 11, 2005, but on that date he continued all motions. In October he continued them again.

In November Bedrin died.

In December Simmons Cooper's Jill Angle filed an amended complaint on behalf of widow Shirley Bedrin, naming 93 defendants.

Companies that had moved to dismiss the original complaint began filing motions to dismiss the amended complaint.

SimmonsCooper continued settling. Shirley Bedrin dismissed Union Pacific, Commonwealth Petrochemicals, Skelly Oil, Aristech Chemical and Coastal Corporation..

Moran resigned Feb. 9. His cases transferred to Maddox.

Wegman's Food Markets moved Feb. 15 to dismiss.

Attorney Jason of McKnight of St. Louis wrote that Wegman's was not doing business in Madison County. He wrote that Wegman's owned stores in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland.

Nova Chemicals, PMS Produicts, Acheson Industries, Morgan Distributing, and Henkel Technologies joined the list of companies moving to dismiss.

Maddox set a hearing on defense motions March 10, but both sides agreed to continue. She reset the hearing May 25 but cancelled that.

Bedrin dismissed CNA Holdings and Acheson Industries in May.

McKnight sent notice to SimmonsCooper that Wegman's Food Markets would argue the motion to dismiss before Maddox on June 29.

Instead of hearing the motion on the 29th, Maddox signed an order dismissing the suit at the request of SimmonsCooper on June 28.

Though some defendants settled and others tried to escape Madison County, many defendants never responded to the suit at all.

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Organizations in this Story

Union Pacific
1400 Douglas St
Omaha, NE 68179

3M Center
Maplewood, MN 55119

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