CMC reset in Madison County benzene case

Christina Stueve Jun. 1, 2012, 2:25am



Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth on Wednesday reset a case management conference to July 25 in a man's lawsuit against more than 60 defendant companies claiming he was exposed to benzene while working as a pipefitter from 1970-2008.

Because of his exposure, he developed acute myelogenous leukemia and was diagnosed with cancer, he claims.

Ruth on May 10 allowed a Texas attorney to participate in the case.

Frederick Wagner requested permission to participate on behalf of Barton Solvents, Inc.

Ruth ordered Jeffrey T. Bash, an Illinois attorney, to be designated as local counsel for Barton Solvents.

Plaintiff Ricky Marshall and Jerry Marshall filed the lawsuit last September. The Marshalls are represented by attorneys with the Saville & Flint firm of Glen Carbon.

Performance Contractors, a defendant in the case, filed a motion to dismiss the complaint May 4, stating the lawsuit pleads numerous conclusions without facts. It also claims the plaintiffs fail to identify a product processed or used by Performance.

Illinois law requires a plaintiff to identify the product at issue and link it to the defendant, according to the motion.

The complaint lumps defendants together and makes blanket allegations against parties who are alleged to have processed, produced, manufactured, sold, distributed, marketed or otherwise used benzene and benzene-containing products, the motion stated.

Technical Chemical Co., another defendant in the case, said on April 19, the suit failed to show it intentionally caused harm or disregarded the welfare of the injured plaintiff.

The company said in an April 19 motion to strike and dismiss, the plaintiffs made broad statements and vague allegations regarding the actions of a group of defendants and does not specify any misrepresentations or omissions made by Technical Chemical.

In its answer to the complaint, the company says the alleged exposure was not caused by any product it designed or handled.

The company says it was the Marshalls' employers who had duty to warn.

"The plaintiff was employed by sophisticated employers, and the duty of Technical Chemical to warn plaintiff of any danger to the exposure to benzene and benzene containing products, the existence of which duty is expressly denied, was discharged by her employers' intervening duty to give plaintiff all required warning," Technical stated in its answer.

Thomas M. Crawford and Michelle K. Correia of Litchfield Cavo in Chicago represent Technical Chemical, formerly known as Johnsen's Products.

Brian Huelsmann, Michael Chessler and Sean P. Sheehan of HeplerBroom represent Performance Contractors.

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

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