Iron worker's estate files benzene suit in Madison County

Ann Knef Feb. 28, 2007, 8:37am

Randy Gori

Karen Walker of Troy has filed a benzene lawsuit against more than 10 major U.S. corporations in Madison County on behalf of the estate of David W. Baglin claiming he died of myeloma, a disease caused by benzene exposure.

Represented by Randy Gori of Goldenberg, Heller, Antognoli, Rowland, Short and Gori of Edwardsville, Walker is seeking in excess of $250,000 in compensatory, exemplary and punitive damages from Atlantic Richfield Co., BP Amoco Chemical Co., Radiator Specialty Co., Shell Chemical Co., Shell Oil Co., Sherwin-Williams Co., Testor Corp., Turtle Wax Inc., Union Oil Co. of California, US Steel Corp. and U.S. Paint.

According to the suit filed Feb. 20, Baglin was employed as an iron worker and welder for Granite City Steel from 1953 to 1990 and was a member of the Chemical Workers Union.

Walker claims Baglin was exposed to and inhaled, ingested or otherwise absorbed benzene and/or products containing benzene which were designed, manufactured, sold or distributed by the defendants.

The suit is the second benzene case filed by the Goldenberg firm this year in Madison County. The other suit was brought by plaintiffs Courtney and Jim Vostry on Jan. 2.

Since 2005, there have been at least 15 benzene cases filed in Madison County.

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.

Walker claims Baglin's disease was chemically-induced and caused his death on Sept. 30, 2005.

"The defendants knew or should have known benzene has a toxic, poisonous and highly deleterious effect upon the health of the persons inhaling, ingesting or otherwise absorbing them," the complaint states.

Benzene, which is known to be a carcinogen, is used in the manufacture of plastics, detergents, pesticides and other chemicals.

Walker claims the defendants failed to exercise ordinary care and caution for Baglin's safety, health and welfare by, among other things:

  • Including benzene in their products and processes, even though it was completely foreseeable that people living around them would inhale or ingest benzene;

  • Including benzene in their products while defendants knew or should have known that carcinogenic chemicals would have a toxic, poisonous and highly deleterious effect on those handling them;

  • Including benzene when adequate substitutes were available;

  • Failing to allocate any or adequate funds to test, monitor, and research the human health affects of benzene-containing products or processes on residents living in proximity of where benzene was being used;

  • Failing to provide any or adequate warnings to people living around the area;

  • Failing to recommend the use of adequate personal protective equipment inhaling or living around benzene; and

  • Failing to recall or cease using benzene and products and processes containing benzene.

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