Gordon Maag files wrongful death suit in Madison County

Steve Gonzalez Jun. 14, 2007, 7:00am

Gordon Maag

Attorney Gordon Maag filed his first suit since losing the election for Illinois Supreme Court justice in 2004.

Maag, a former Madison County judge and Illinois Appellate judge, filed a wrongful death suit against eight defendants in Madison County Circuit Court June 13, on behalf of the estate of Kent Herzog who claims he was exposed to benzene.

His office location is listed with a post office box in Breese.

According to the suit, from 1973 until his death in November 2006, Herzog was employed in the kitchen and bath industry installing and making kitchen and bath countertops, cabinets and similar items for the public.

He worked in various counties in southern Illinois including St. Clair and Madison counties, the complaint states.

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.

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

His estate claims that during the course of his work, Herzog was exposed to various chemicals, finishes, solvents, adhesives, and lubricants manufactured, distributed and sold by the defendants.

Herzog's estate claims that in the fall of 2006, Kent was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) at Belleville Memorial Hospital and died on Nov. 30, 2006.

According to the complaint, the surviving next of kin are his wife, Debra, and two children, Ryan and Heather. Debra Herzog represents Kent's estate.

She claims she and her children have all suffered pecuniary injury as a result of Kent's death and have been deprived of valuable services Kent customarily performed for them and would have continued to perform.

Debra also claims she and the children have also been deprived of the society, companionship, love and affection that Kent provided.

Debra claims the defendants failed to exercise ordinary care and caution for Kent's safety, health and welfare by:

  • 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.

    Debra claims Kent was made grievously ill, suffered great pain, incurred large medical bills, lost wages and was deprived of a normal life.

    She is seeking damages in excess of $200,000, plus costs and attorney fees.

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