40 corporations settled benzene case before Simmons' plaintiff took on 3M and lost at trial

Steve Korris Oct. 4, 2010, 2:11am


Forty corporations that bargained their way out of a Madison County benzene exposure suit left 3M standing alone to show they should have resisted instead.

3M won a verdict in August from a jury no other defendant dared to trust.

Everyone but 3M settled with plaintiff Veto Kleinaitis prior to trial, on terms neither side divulged.

Some of those businesses and many others also settled claims in 17 other benzene suits that John Simmons's firm filed from 2004 to 2006.

The firm has dismissed all claims in 13 cases.

The one that 3M took to trial started in September 2005.

In the first five months, Kleinaitis dismissed J. W. Harris and Company, HCI USA, and Brenntag North America.

Shell Oil, Safety Kleen and W-D 40, choosing to resist, moved to transfer to a more convenient forum.

Boldest of all, 3M demanded a jury trial.

In the suit's first year, Kleinaitis also dismissed W.W. Grainger Inc., Union Carbide, Total Petrochemical, Pharmacia, Occidental Chemical, Dow Chemical, McGean Rohco, and Flint Hills Resources.

Safety Kleen settled, giving up on its transfer motion after four months.

In the case's second year, Kleinaitis dismissed Huntsman Petroleum, Mallinckrodt, Atlantic Richfield, Brenntag Mid South and U.S. Steel.

Shell Oil gave up on its transfer motions and settled.

WD-40 was dismissed from the lawsuit by the plaintiffs.

In the third year, Kleinaitis dismissed Citgo, CMC Industries, Lyondell Petrochemical, Sandstrom Products, Conoco Phillips, Packaging Service, Hammonds Technical Services, Ashland Inc., Chevron Phillips, Texaco, Union Oil of California, PPG Industries, Sunoco, Marathon, BP Amoco, BP Products North America, Exxon Mobil and Chase Products.

As trial approached, he dismissed DuPont, Turtle Wax and U. S. Paint.

That left only 3M on trial in August, before Chief Judge Ann Callis.

Jurors cleared 3M of liability, leaving four of 18 benzene suits still open.

Callis has set a January trial for Simmons client Dan Arnold.

Simmons client Alvia Hester notified Callis in April that her suit was "wrapped up," but no one had wrapped it up as of Sept. 16.

Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder plans a Sept. 24 management conference for Simmons client Robert Mankowski.

A claim from Simmons client Roger Rose has sat idle for three years.

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Organizations in this Story

Dow Chemical
2030 Dow Center
Midland, MI 48674

Exxon Mobil
5959 Las Colinas Blvd
Irving, TX 75039

1007 North Market Street
Wilmington, DE 19899

3M Center
Maplewood, MN 55119

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