Benzene suit names 14 corporate giants

Steve Gonzalez May 21, 2007, 6:00am

A Fairview Heights man is suing 14 defendant corporations in Madison County Circuit Court claiming his father died from benzene exposure.

Rudolph Jones, Jr. claims his father, Rudolph Jones Sr., died from multiple myeloma, a disease caused by benzene and benzene exposure, on May 15, 2006.

Represented by Randy Gori and Allyson Romani of Goldenberg, Heller, Antognoli, Rowland, Short and Gori of Edwardsville, Jones is seeking in excess of $250,000 in compensatory, exemplary and punitive damages from Atlantic Richfield Co., BP Amoco Chemical Co., Cerro Copper, Dow Chemical, DuPont, General Motors, Radiator Specialty, 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 May 9, the elder Jones was employed as a steel worker, laborer and welder in Granite City from 1963 to 2003 and was a member of SEIU Local 1 in St. Louis from 1963 until his death.

Jones claims his father 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.

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.

"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.

Jones claims the defendants failed to exercise ordinary care and caution for his father'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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    Organizations in this Story

    Dow Chemical
    2030 Dow Center
    Midland, MI 48674

    1007 North Market Street
    Wilmington, DE 19899

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