A woman from the state of Washington claims her relative died after he developed cancer after being exposed to benzene during his career in that state.

Collette Courtion filed a lawsuit June 14 in Madison County Circuit Court against 38 companies.

The suit claims that venue is proper because one or more defendants have done or are doing business in Madison County and because part of the alleged acts and omissions underlying the plaintiff's claims occurred in Madison County.

In her complaint, Collette Courtion claims her recently deceased relative, Donald Courtion, worked as a printer and engraver for NW Agency from 1966 until 1983.

During his employment, Donald Courtion was exposed to benzene and benzene-containing products. Benzene is a highly toxic chemical classified as a human carcinogen, according to the complaint.

Because of his exposure, Donald Courtion developed acute myelogenous leukemia, the complaint says.

Before his death, Donald Courtion incurred medical costs, experienced pain and suffering and missed work, according to the complaint.

Collette Courtion alleges negligence against the defendants, saying they included benzene in their products even though they knew of the dangers of the benzene, included benzene in their products when adequate substitutes were available, failed to sufficiently test the health effects of benzene and failed to provide instruction on safe methods to work with benzene, among other negligent acts.

She also accuses the defendants of willful and wanton conduct and conspiracy.

In her four-count suit, Collette Courtion seeks compensatory damages of more than $200,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

Benjamin R. Schmickle, J. Joseph Kusmierczak and Matthew C. Morris of SWMK Law in St. Louis and Richard L. Saville Jr. of St. Louis will be representing her.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 13-L-995.


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