$4.5 Million Settlement For Worker Who Developed Leukemia After Workplace Exposure to Benzene and Solvents

Fitzsimmons Law Firm obtained a $4.5 Million settlement on behalf of its client—a worker who developed leukemia at the age of 41 after being exposed to benzene, solvents, and other toxic chemicals at his place of employment. The plaintiff was employed in a plant where he was chronically and systematically exposed to high levels of solvents, solvent vapor fumes, and liquids, resulting in significant inhalation and dermal exposures to various toxic substances. Plaintiff and other co-workers testified that were regularly exposed to solvent vapors; fugitive emissions from open containers and dispensing operations; solvent vapors and fugitive emissions from storage facility; vapors from open buckets; and vapors during clean up. The chemicals to which he was exposed were dangerous and carcinogenic and included, benzene, acetone, ethylbenzene, heptane, hexane, kerosene, mineral spirits, naphtha, petroleum distillates, petroleum ether, Stoddard solvents, toluene, and/or xylene.

After working numerous years at the plant, and regularly being exposed to benzene and solvents, the plaintiff developed chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). The plaintiff instituted the underlying lawsuit alleging that his leukemia was caused by defendants’ sale and distribution of defective and unsafe products and their failure to adequately warn about the risks and hazards associated with the use of their chemicals.

The plaintiff alleged that the chemical manufacturers’ Material Safety Data Sheets and labels were deficient and failed to adequately warn about the acute and chronic hazards associated with their products, specifically whether exposure to their products could cause leukemia or other cancers. It was also established that defendants failed to perform the necessary and required due diligence and hazard determination for the preparation of its MSDSs and labels in violation of numerous OSHA regulations, ANSI standards and other industry standards. The plaintiff also alleged that his employer acted with “deliberate intention” and knowingly exposed him to unsafe working conditions by failing to implement a proper ventilation system, failing to warn him about the risks associated with the use of solvents, and failing to provide him with proper respiratory and other personal protective equipment.

The defendants defended the claim by contending that the plaintiff’s leukemia was not caused by his exposure to the chemicals. However, the plaintiff retained numerous medical and expert witnesses, including experts in toxicology, epidemiology, hematology, and occupational medicine, who established the association between benzene and other solvents and leukemia.

The plaintiff’s damages in the case consisted of his medical bills, future medical bills and life care plan, lost wages and earning capacity, lost household services, and numerous other intangible damages including fear of dying, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, and mental anguish and suffering.

Benzene Lawsuit Settlements

Additional settlements that have been reached in benzene exposure lawsuits include:

  • In 2018, Shell and ConocoPhillips paid a $4.83 million benzene exposure settlement to the residents in Roxana, Illinois over a complaint centering around a refinery that had 18 spills in 25 years, releasing more than 200,000 pounds of benzene into the environment.
  • In 2017, U.S. Steel agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to a Pennsylvania mechanic who developed acute myelogenous leukemia from benzene exposure.
  • In 2016, BP settled 25,000 benzene lawsuits in Texas following a 40-day leak at a chemical plant in Texas City that released 500,000 pounds of toxic chemicals into the air.

Fitzsimmons Law Firm is a leading Plaintiff’s litigation and personal injury firm headquartered in Wheeling, West Virginia. The Firm has a proud history of protecting workers who have been injured as a result of their exposure to toxic and harmful chemicals or other work-related incidents. The Firm has obtained over $1 Billion for its clients, including over 185 settlements or verdicts in excess of $1 Million.

DISCLAIMER: Verdicts and Settlements are listed on this website for informational purposes only. Future verdicts or settlements cannot necessarily be predicted from prior results. Fitzsimmons Law Firm PLLC makes no guarantee that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters. Each case depends on its own unique facts, strengths and weaknesses, severity of damages/injuries, credibility of witnesses, availability of insurance coverage, and many other facts that can affect a claim's verdict and/or settlement amount. Because of this, you cannot assume that the same result would occur for you in your state under the particular facts of your case.


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