Monday, April 29, 2019

Benzene found to cause lymphoma, leukemia

Jury awards $21.4 million in two cancer deaths against oil company that merged with Chevron 

A San Francisco Bay Area jury has awarded $21.4 million in the cancer deaths of two brothers who'd handled a deadly chemical.

The Contra Costa County Superior Court found Union Oil responsible for the deaths of Gary and Randy Eaves, who'd worked in a Texarkana, Arkansas, tire-manufacturing plant. 

Union Oil made the rubber solvent containing benzene, which the brothers were exposed to during their longtime employment.

Gary was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2013 at age 59, and Randy was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia in 2016, also at age 59.

The trial lasted more than four weeks; jury deliberation's took three days.
Attorney Mary Alexander
According to a statement by a San Francisco lawyer for the families of the brothers, Mary Alexander, "This oil company has been held accountable for their negligence in putting profits before people. This tremendous verdict will help ensure protection consumers as it sends a message that any company that fails to warn about toxic chemicals in the products they sell, such as benzene which causes cancer, will be held responsible."

The plaintiffs had alleged that the company knew the solvents contained benzene and "knew, or should have known, that exposure to it was extremely hazardous and cancer-causing," Alexander wrote.

The trial, according to a recent story by Lauren Hernandez in the San Francisco Chronicle, "was held in Contra Costa County because Chevron — which merged with Unocal, formerly known as Union Oil — headquartered in San Ramon," which is located in that county.

According to the lawyer, Hernandez's article notes, "the chemical sprayed onto [the brothers'] unprotected skin while handling the solvent…and Union Oil never told the plant or its workers to wear respirators or protective clothing, and never advised workers to handle the chemical inside of a ventilation booth."

In addition, Alexander was quoted as saying, "They did not ship the solvent with material safety data sheets or any other data that reflected the solvent contained benzene that cause cancer."

Chevron, the story says, "provide a one-sentence statement to The Chronicle in response to the decision, stating, 'We do not believe the Unocal had any role in the claimed injuries and we are evaluating the jury's decision and the court's rulings in this matter."

The newspaper's story said that Eaves families, who live in Arkansas, stayed in the Bay Area throughout the trial.

It also reported that Alexander "said Union Oil representatives are responsible for paying the $21.4 million bill as the primary defendant in the case, despite it technically not existing anymore."

Chevron paid Union Oil's trial costs, she said.

Details of other corporations being responsible for disease-related deaths can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

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