Texas attorney requests to be admitted as counsel in benzene case

Christina Stueve Apr. 11, 2012, 2:40am


Texas attorney Jim C. Ezer is asking Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth to grant pro hac vice status in a benzene case on behalf of clients E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co. and First Chemical Co.

Ricky and Jerry Marshall of Mississippi filed suit Nov. 14 against more than 60 defendant companies.

Marshall worked as a pipefitter from 1970 - 2008 when he was allegedly exposed to benzene and benzene-containing products, according to his complaint.

Because of his exposure, he developed acute myelogenous leukemia and was diagnosed with the cancer Sept. 5, 2011, his suit states.

Ruth on March 29 dismissed one of the defendants in the case, Wyatt Field Service Company.

He also agreed to dismiss Radiator Specialty Co., finding a settlement to be in good faith. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Lion Oil Company through its attorneys requested Ruth to dismiss it from the lawsuit for lack of personal jurisdiction. Its motion says it has never had refining operations in Illinois and has not had a registered agent for service in Illinois since 2004.

The company has been in the business of manufacturing petroleum and petroleum-related products, with operations in Arkansas and offices in Tennessee, it says.

"The complaint contains vague boilerplate allegations that Plaintiff Ricky Marshall was exposed to benzene-containing products attributable to numerous defendants, including Lion Oil," wrote its attorney Raymond Bell of Foley & Mansfield.

Turner Industries Group on March 13 also filed a motion to dismiss the case.

Chicago attorney John Holiona of Patton & Ryan LLC on March 20 announced his representation for Turner.

John Patton Jr., another attorney for Turner Industries Group, wrote that Marshall sets blanket allegations that he was exposed to fumes emanating from benzene-containing materials as a result of Turner's conduct, but without providing specific facts.

The complaint also does not set forth that Marshall has ever been a resident of Illinois or Madison County, Patton wrote.

Patton wrote the majority of parties in the case, including plaintiffs, are in states other than Illinois.

"Balancing the private factors with public factors, it appears there is a lack of connection with Madison County, Illinois, such that this matter must be dismissed or transferred to a jurisdiction that has connections to parties and subject matter," Patton wrote.

The Marshalls on March 12 requested Ruth grant them a protective order, limiting defendants to standard written discovery requests.

The Marshalls stated through attorney Jill Price that the defense served them with at least 10 requests to produce information.

"The Illinois Supreme Court rule allows the court to limit such requests in order to prevent discovery abuse, undue burden and the use of dilatory tactics," Price wrote.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-1211.

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