Judge Crowder's benzene trial continued

By Amelia Flood | Aug 13, 2009




The trial of a former dairy worker who claims his illness is the result of benzene exposure decades has been continued.

Former ConAgra worker Cecil Thomason and his wife, Shirley, originally sued 26 defendants in the case, claiming the chemical caused Thomason's macroglobulinenemia.

The pair are seeking in excess of $150,000 in compensatory damages as well as punitive damages in excess of $150,000 and costs.

A number of defendants have already been dismissed from the case.

According to the complaint, Cecil Thomason worked at several facilities including the Alton ConAgra for decades. During the course of his employment, he claims to have been exposed to numerous products containing benzene.

The Thomasons allege the exposure caused the disease.

The couple claims the defendants were negligent for using products containing benzene, failing to warn Cecil Thomason about their dangers, failing to properly instruct him in safe handling of the products, and requiring him to use benzene products in his employment.

The suit seeks damages for Cecil Thomason's suffering from a chemical-induced disease, pain, mental anguish, medical bills, and fears he will contract further ailments as the result of his illness. His wife seeks damages for the loss of services, love, companionship and other counts.

The case was originally assigned to then-Madison County Circuit Judge George Moran.

Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder presides. The trial had been scheduled to begin Aug. 17.

The plaintiffs are represented by Elizabeth Heller of the Goldenberg firm in Edwardsville.

Defendants that have been dismissed from the case include:

BP Products of North America, Citgo Petroleum Co., Citgo Pipeline Co., CRC Industries Americas Group, Exxon Mobil Corp., Fischer Scientific, Frost Electric Co., Graybar Electric Co., Mallinkrodt Inc., McKessons Robbins, Monsanto, Olin Matheson, Oxy USA Inc., Peavy (ConAgra), Pharmacia Corp., Rochester Midland Corp., Sun Oil Co., Texaco Inc., Union Electric Co., United States Steel Corp., JT Baker Inc. and Frost Electric Supply Co.

According to Crowder's bailiff, all but two defendants remain in the case.

Shell Chemical Co. is one of those remaining defendants.

The case is Madison case number 05-L-707.

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