April 19, 2017 — A lawsuit has been filed by an auto mechanic in Illinois who was diagnosed with cancer after decades of working in repair shops where he was exposed to benzene and other toxic chemicals.
The plaintiff is Steven J. Williams, a man who has worked as an auto mechanic from 1982 to the present. He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer that is associated with exposure to benzene and carcinogens.
Mr. Williams filed the lawsuit against BP, ExxonMobile, and other oil companies for failing to warn about the health hazards of breathing benzene fumes in gasoline, diesel fuel, and motor vehicle exhaust.
Mr. Williams also sued several companies that manufacture other automotive products with high levels of carcinogens. He says he was exposed to chlorinated hydrocarbons and benzene in diesel fuel, parts washer solvent, paint, belt dressing, and more.
Benzene is a sweet-smelling flammable chemical that is used as a starter in a wide variety of products, but especially car paint and solvents (degreasers, cleaning agents, etc.). It evaporates very quickly and the primary source of exposure is by breathing it in the air.
Benzene is metabolized by the body and it accumulates in the bone marrow, which causes the bones to produce abnormal white blood cells. Over time, exposure to benzene is known to cause cancers like Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) or Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS).
Mr. Williams has requested a 12-person jury trial and he is seeking more than $50,000 in compensation for his injuries. Lawyers accuse 14 defendants of failing to warn about the health hazards of using their products, despite evidence of side effects dating back to the 1950s.
The lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court in Illinois on February 1, 2017 — Case No. 2016-L001056.
The defendants include the following companies: Ashland Inc., BP Products North America Inc., Hess Corp., Safety-Kleen Systems Inc., The Sherwin-Williams Co., E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., Axalta Coating Systems LLC, CRC Industries Inc., Rust-Oleum Corp., Radiator Specialty Co., Heritage Crystal Clean LLC, Shell Oil Co., ExxonMobil Corp. and Marathon Petroleum Corp.
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