Many experts agree that benzene, a chemical found in gasoline, can be a carcinogen and that even relatively small amounts of benzene exposure can cause leukemia if that exposure is sustained over time. Benzene exposure that reportedly caused a man’s myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) was behind a lawsuit that resulted in a multimillion-dollar award being handed down in the case. Sadly, that man lost his life, but two individuals brought the premises liability and products liability case on his behalf. A state Supreme Court affirmed the $7.5 million dollar verdict that was awarded in the benzene lawsuit.
The man worked for six years as a fuel truck driver that loaded at a Kinder Morgan Energy Partner LP gas terminal in another state. The defendant raised arguments that gasoline is not a carcinogen and that the man who died had not been exposed to a sufficient level of benzene to lead to the development of MDS. In the original trial, Kinder Morgan was the only remaining defendant by the time of the verdict. The jury entered an award against Kinder Morgan that included $700,000 for medical and funeral costs, $2.5 million for the pain and suffering of the decedent, $1 million for the past sorrow and grief of the decedent’s daughter, and $2.5 million for the future sorrow and grief of the daughter.
The defendant protested that the verdict represented an excessive amount and that the plaintiffs did not successfully present enough evidence to demonstrate causation. It further maintained that the evidence did not sufficiently shore up the claims of negligence and strict products liability in the case. A Nevada District Court judge denied most of Kinder Morgan’s post-trial motions opposing the verdict, although the court did rule that the defendant did deserve that the amount it owed be offset in the amount of $760,000.
In the appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court, that court ruled that the plaintiffs did succeed in proving causation in this case. According to expert testimony, the decedent showed changes to his chromosomes consistent with benzene exposure leading to his MDS. The appellate court found that the epidemiological evidence used by plaintiff’s experts in reaching their opinions was sound and allowable. Also, while the defendant did show that gasoline has not been labeled a carcinogen by governmental agencies, the plaintiff’s expert testimony did demonstrate a consensus that the benzene contained in the gasoline is a carcinogen and that even low levels of benzene exposure can cause leukemia. Leukemia is just one of the many diseases that have been associated with benzene.
Learn more about the health risks associated with benzene exposure.
It seems obvious that money is a cold comfort for a family left to grieve a loved one’s life lost because of benzene exposure and leukemia. However, this does take away the financial pressure that an untimely death can cause. Additionally, it can help hold those whose negligence has caused the death responsible and serve as a warning to others that they must act responsibly or face similar consequences. If you think that your injury or a loved one’s death is due to benzene exposure we are experienced in representing clients in benzene lawsuits.
Source: Harris Martin Publishing. (2014, December 17). Nevada Supreme Court Affirms $7.5 Million Verdict Entered in Benzene Gasoline Exposure Suit.