An Iowa jury has awarded just over $3.5 million at the conclusion of a benzene trial brought by the widow of a former truck driver who, she alleged, developed acute myeloid leukemia as a result of exposure to benzene during the course of his employment. The jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa awarded the Plaintiff $1.76 million in actual damages and an additional $1.76 million in punitive damages, against Lyondell Chemical Co., Equistar Chemicals LP, and Equistar GP LLC.
The Plaintiff’s deceased husband Dean Dahlin was employed as a commercial truck driver for Dahlen Transport Inc. from 1990 to 1992, and for A&R Logistics Inc. from approximately 1992 to 1995. During the course of his employment, Dahlin loaded, transported and unloaded benzene-containing products from a petrochemical facility located in Clinton, Iowa, to a municipal dock storage facility in South Clinton, Iowa. The Plaintiff asserted, that as a direct result of the benzene exposure, Dahlin developed myelodysplastic syndrome, which eventually developed into acute myeloid leukemia.
In less than a day of deliberating, the jury found that the defendants knew, or should have known, “of a condition on the premises, specifically benzene exposure, and that it involved an unreasonable risk of injury to a person in Dean Dahlin’s position.” Jurors further found that the defendants knew, or should have known, that Dahlin would not discover the condition, realize the condition presented a risk of injury, and would not protect himself from the condition. As referenced above, in addition to general damages, the jury found the defendants’ actions constituted a willful and wanton disregard for the rights or safety of others and awarded an additional $1.76 million in punitive damages.
Prior to the trial, the defendants had asked the court to throw out the punitive damage claim, saying that the plaintiff had failed to present evidence that would support a finding of willful and wanton disregard of the rights or safety of another. The federal court declined to revisit its order denying the motion, however, saying that it had already “considered and rejected the arguments now raised by the defendants.” The Plaintiffs were represented at trial by Keith E. Patton and David J. Baluk of Shrader & Associates in Houston; and Robert Gallagher Jr. and Peter Gierut of Gallagher Millage & Gallagher in Bettendorf, Iowa.
John Tomlinson, a lawyer in our Toxic Torts Section, has filed and is investigating Benzene exposure cases. If you need more information on this contact John at 800-898-2034 or by email at John.Tomlinson@beasleyallen.com.
Source: Harris Martin Publishing, April 5, 2016
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.