Hylla sets deadlines in benzene case involving family of Bethalto woman

Christina Stueve Jun. 1, 2012, 2:55am


Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla on Tuesday set deadlines in a lawsuit filed over a Bethalto woman's leukemia death against two Roxana oil refineries.

Defendant Shell Oil Co. is supposed to begin disclosing current and former employees for deposition by June 8, according to Hylla's order.

He also wrote that the parties are set to begin depositions by the weeks of July 16 and 23.

Jeffrey Ochs, on behalf of his wife Debra Ochs, and the couple's daughter, filed suit in 2011 in Madison County Circuit Court against Shell and BP Products North America, Inc.

Ochs says Debra spent a lot of time in Roxana over the last three decades, working as a teacher and principal at Central Elementary from 1994 through 2003. During that time, Shell and BP operated refineries in the area.

Ochs alleges both companies processed and used benzene and benzene-containing pollutants, known to be highly toxic and cancer-causing. Ochs says Debra's exposure to the chemical caused her to be diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia in 2003. She died in January 2008.

Ochs claims the companies released benzene into the air and ground water. He is asking for more than $50,000 in damages to pay for medical expenses, lost income and court costs.

Attorneys Thomas E. Schwartz and Justin D. Guerra of St. Louis, Keith E. Patton of Houston and Allyson M. Romani of Glen Carbon are representing Ochs.

Madison County Circuit Court Case No. 11-L-52

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