60 defendants named in Madison County benzene suit

By Steve Gonzalez | Aug 31, 2005

The widow of a man who died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in February filed a benzene suit against 60 defendants in Madison County Circuit Court Aug. 25, seeking damages in excess of $200,000.

Nancy Shaw claims her husband, Francis, developed his disease while working as a mechanic for Ozark, TWA, and American Airlines at Lambert International Airport from 1976-2003.

Shaw claims her husband was exposed to benzene and benzene-containing products manufactured or sold by companies such as Boeing, BP Amoco, Chevron Texaco, Conoco Phillips, Exxon Mobil, Lockheed Martin, WD-40 and United States Steel.

Benzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon that is produced by the burning of natural products. It is a component of products derived from coal and petroleum and is found in gasoline and other fuels and is used to make some types of rubbers, lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides.

Natural sources of benzene include volcanoes and forest fires. Benzene is also a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke.

Shaw alleges that the defendants’ agreed to suppress or minimize knowledge of the hazards of benzene, so they could market products they knew were dangerous.

According to the complaint, the defendants' benzene products:

  • Contained toxic benzene even though alternatives were available;

  • Did not contain any or adequate warnings about the dangers of inhaling, ingesting or otherwise absorbing benzene; and

  • Did not contain instructions concerning the safe methods of working with and around the benzene products.

    Shaw claims her husband's exposure to benzene caused him to spend money on healthcare services and suffer great physical pain and mental anguish.

    “The defendants knew that their conduct created a substantial risk that people such as Francis Shaw would suffer an illness as a result of such conduct,” the complaint states.

    Shaw is represented by Ted Gianaris and Kenneth Brennan of SimmonsCooper of East Alton.

    The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron.

    05 L 773

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    Exxon Mobil The Boeing Company

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