Benzene, petroleum naptha suit filed in Madison County

Steve Gonzalez Jul. 23, 2007, 9:43am

A Kentucky woman filed suit against 17 defendants in Madison County Circuit Court July 20, claiming her husband died from leukemia after exposure to benzene and petroleum naphtha.

Leticia Arnett claims her husband Jeremy was diagnosed with leukemia on Dec. 23, 2004, and was told that his disease was related to his exposure to benzene and petroleum naphtha.

Jeremy was employed as a tire builder and utility man at General Tire and Rubber Company in Mayfield, Ky. from 2000 until 2004, when the plant closed.

Arnett claims that during the course of Jeremy's employment he was exposed to and inhaled, ingested or otherwise absorbed benzene and petroleum naphtha which was designed, manufactured, sold or distributed by the 17 defendants that include BP Amoco, Chevron, Continental Tire, Shell Oil and ConocoPhillips.

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.

Naphtha is used in the petrochemical industry for producing olefins in steam crackers and in the chemical industry for solvent applications.

Arnett claims the defendants had a duty to exercise reasonable care and caution for the safety, health and welfare of her husband but failed in that duty by including benzene and petroleum naphtha in their products even though they would have a toxic and highly deleterious effect on the health of the person handling them.

She also claims the defendants failed to provide adequate warnings and instructions on benzene and petroleum naphtha, failed to recommend using personal protective equipment, and failed to recall or cease using benzene and petroleum naphtha.

Arnett claims Jeremy's disease had disfigured and disabled him. She also claims he endured pain and suffering and incurred medical expenses and lost wages.

Represented by David Jones of East Alton, Arnett is seeking damages in excess of $150,000, plus costs of the suit.

James Owens of Paducah also represents Arnett.

07 L 651

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