Ted Gianaris

A Wood River Refinery

A Colorado man filed an 18-count benzene suit against 91 defendants in Madison County Circuit Court Sept. 9, alleging that his exposure to benzene and benzene-containing materials and products caused him to develop acute mylogenous leukemia (AML).

Seeking in excess of $1 million, Dan Arnold claims he was diagnosed with the illness in June 2004.

Some of the defendants include, Turtle Wax, WD-40, Union Carbide, US Steel, Honeywell, Dow Chemical and most major gas refining companies.

According to Arnold’s complaint, filed by Ted Gianaris and Timothy Thompson of SimmonsCooper in East Alton, venue is proper because one or more of the defendants do business in Madison County, and some of the claims occurred in Madison County.

Arnold claims he worked for various employers at various locations throughout Illinois and elsewhere from 1968 including:

  • Rommie’s Amoco in Morris, Ill., as a truck stop attendant from 1968-1971;
  • Mobil Refinery in Joliet, as a pipeline operator from 1971-1973;
  • Reichhold Inc. in Morris, as a pipeline operator in 1973;
  • Arco Products in Mazon and Pontiac, Ill., as a pipeline operator, delivery man and engineer, from 1973 to 1992. During that time he made or obtained deliveries at Shell Oil in Wood River, Clark Oil in Hartford, Amoco Oil in White Oaks, Ind., Enbridge Oil in Griffith, Ind. and Sinclair Oil in Iowa.

    Arnold claims during the course of his employment and during non-occupational work projects he was exposed to and inhaled, ingested or otherwise absorbed benzene fumes emanating from products he was working with, which were sold or distributed by the defendants.

    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 also is a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke.

    According to the complaint, the benzene-containing materials were unreasonably dangerous because they contained benzene, a toxin and human carcinogen, although suitable alternatives were available and because they were not accompanied by any adequate warnings to people working with or around the products.

    “Arnold, as an ordinary user of said benzene materials or products was not aware of the hazards of benzene," the complaint states.

    “The defendants knew that their acts created a substantial risk to people such as Arnold (who) would suffer illness as a result, therefore, carried out the same with complete indifference and conscious disregard for the life, health and welfare of Arnold.”

    Arnold also claims that the defendants agreed to suppress knowledge of the hazards of benzene and benzene-containing materials and acted together for the purpose of accomplishing by concerted action an unlawful purpose, by an unlawful means.

    According to the complaint, Arnold will continue to suffer a disability and disfigurement, medical expenses, physical pain and mental anguish, impairment in the enjoyment of recreational activities and lost wages.

    Arnold’s wife, Cindy, also claims she has suffered interference with, and impairment of their marital relationship and all of those elements of married life she was accustomed to receiving, including, support, devotion, care, society and consortium.

    The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian.

    05 L 812

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