A jury in Dallas, Texas, awarded $8.2 million last month to a 60-year-old man battling a form of leukemia caused by his on-the-job exposure to paint and thinners manufactured by DuPont Co. Virgil Hood handled DuPont’s products on the job daily between 1973 and 1996 when he worked as a painter for Continental Airlines and a company that builds semi-trailers. He is the Plaintiff in the suit and was a victim of DuPont’s unwillingness to remove benzene, a toxic chemical that causes bone marrow disease and leukemia, from its products or warn about its potential danger.
The jury awarded Mr. Hood $6.7 million in compensatory damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages against DuPont for failing to warn about the dangers of benzene in its products. DuPont is responsible for 80 percent of the compensatory award, and the Plaintiff’s former employer, Timpte Trailers, is directed to pay the remainder. For decades, the manufacturers of benzene-contaminated products have attempted to deny their accountability for injuring hard-working Americans. The evidence in this trial proved that from 1938, DuPont knew that benzene exposure causes bone marrow disease. By 1954, DuPont had warned others to remove benzene from paints but it elected not to and decided not to warn workers about the hazards.
Mr. Hood was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome/acute myeloid leukemia in 2012 and has since undergone chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant that resulted in a series of complications including temporary blindness and a drop in weight to 110 pounds. After the transplant, he was forced to retire and is currently dealing with the side effects. The suit, which was filed in 2013, initially included several other corporate Defendants. Those companies were either dismissed from the case or settled with the Plaintiff before trial.
The Plaintiff is represented by Peter A. Kraus, Susannah Chester-Schindler and Jonathan A. George of Waters Kraus & Paul LLP and Scott R. Frieling of Allen Stewart PC. They did a very good job in this most significant case, which was tried in the 160th Judicial District Court of Texas.
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