The estate of Derek Rea filed suit against 15 corporations in Madison County Circuit Court, claiming Rea's benzene exposure caused him to develop cute myelogenous leukemia, which led to his death last month.Including benzene in their products and processes, even though it was completely foreseeable that people living around them would inhale or ingest benzene;
The complaint filed June 30 says Rea worked for various employers throughout Illinois, working as laborer at ConocoPhillips, U.S. Steel, Clark USA, Monsanto, Shell Oil, and Premcor Refining.
The suit claims Rea's exposure to benzene was completely foreseeable and could or should have been anticipated by the defendants.
It also claims the defendants knew or should have known that benzene had a toxic and highly deleterious effect upon the health of the persons inhaling, ingesting or otherwise absorbing it.
The ten-count suit seeks in excess of $400,000 in compensatory damages and attorney fees.
In addition to Rea's past employers, his estate names BP Amoco Chemical, BP North America, Clark Refining, Chase Products, E.I DuPont, Radiator Specialty, Turtle Wax and 3M.
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.
Benzene, which is known to be a carcinogen, is used in the manufacture of plastics, detergents, pesticides and other chemicals.
The estate claims the defendants failed to exercise ordinary care and caution for his safety, health and welfare by, among other things:
Including benzene in their products while defendants knew or should have known that carcinogenic chemicals would have a toxic, poisonous and highly deleterious effect on those handling them;
Including benzene when adequate substitutes were available;
Failing to allocate any or adequate funds to test, monitor, and research the human health effects of benzene-containing products or processes on residents living in proximity to where benzene was being used;
Failing to provide any or adequate warnings to people living around the area;
Failing to recommend the use of adequate personal protective equipment inhaling or living around benzene; and
Failing to recall or cease using benzene and products and processes containing benzene.
As a result of his exposure, his estate claims that prior to his death Rea spent large sums of money for hospital expenses, experienced pain, suffering, mental anguish and physical disability and lost wages.
His estate also claims that by reason of his death, his family has been deprived of his means and support and has spent substantial sums of money in funeral and burial expenses.
Rea's estate is represented by Richard Saville, Jr., Robert Evola and Ethan Flint of Alton.
The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian.
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