Shell Oil continues to defend Madison County benzene suit

Christina Stueve Mar. 8, 2012, 3:45am




Shell Oil continues to fight a Roxana man's benzene lawsuit filed last year in Madison County Circuit Court.

The case involves Scott Monroe who claims he lost out on a $180,000 scholarship to the University of Michigan after developing acute myelogenous leukemia because of undetected amounts of benzene on the property where he grew up. Monroe filed a lawsuit last June in Madison County against Shell Oil Company, BP Products North America, ConocoPhillips Company, WRB Refining and URS Corporation.

In Shell's answer to the complaint, the company denies negligence in the plaintiff's alleged exposure to benzene. The company also argues that the plaintiff's damages were caused by the acts of a party other than Shell and that the plaintiff's alleged injuries were the result of a preexisting condition.

Shell also says it is not liable to the plaintiff because the company exercised reasonable care and diligence and complied with state and national regulations.

In his complaint, Monroe claims he was diagnosed with leukemia in April 2010.

Following his diagnosis, Monroe learned of the existence of benzene at his residence, at 120 East First St., where he has lived since 1991, according to the complaint. Benzene was allegedly found at the elementary and high schools Monroe attended.

The defendants owned the Wood River Facilities, near Monroe's home and allegedly released benzene into the air and water, exposing local residents, Monroe claims.

The defendants did not clean pollutants released for more than 20 years, despite their knowledge of the chemical's dangers, according to the complaint.

Because of his disease, Monroe incurred medical costs, experienced pain and faces a shorter life, according to the complaint. He also lost the chance to pursue a nuclear engineering degree with a $180,000 U.S. Navy scholarship, the suit states.

Monroe blames the defendants for causing his disease, saying they included benzene in their products when adequate substitutes were available, failed to test benzene on local residents or make them aware of possible benzene contamination.

He seeks more than $50,000.

Christopher W. Dysart of The Dysart Law Firm in Chesterfield and Kimberly M. Steuterman of Helfrey, Neiers and Jones in St. Louis represent Monroe.

Richard Korn, Bart Sullivan, Ryan Mohr of Fox Galvin in St. Louis represent Shell Oil Co.

Joseph Orlet, Adam Miller and Jordan Ault of St. Louis represent BP Products.

Averil Edwards of Chicago represents URS Corporation.

Gregg Kinney of HeplerBroom represents ConocoPhillips Co. and WRB Refining LLC.

The case is assigned to Madison County Judge William Mudge.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-577.

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