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$725.5 Million Benzene Jury Verdict

In May of 2024, a Philadelphia jury verdict awarded $725.5 million in a lawsuit against ExxonMobil. A mechanic sued the company, claiming harmful chemicals in gasoline and solvent products produced by ExxonMobil caused his leukemia decades later. What does the verdict mean? Will there be similar lawsuits for this type of exposure?

mechanic exposed to benzene leukemia lawsuit

Basic Details Of This Case

A former mechanic filed a claim against ExxonMobil. The claim linked products produced and sold by ExxonMobil with the mechanic’s leukemia. The mechanic used solvents and gasoline produced by the company within the scope of his work duties. He was consistently exposed to these products for about 5 years between 1975 and 1980.

The mechanic had frequent, ongoing, and unprotected contact with gasoline and the solvents in his lungs and on his bare skin. This unprotected contact was the likely cause of his leukemia. According to the American Cancer Society, multiple studies support that regular exposure to benzene increases the risk of leukemia in humans. Benzene is shown to cause chromosome changes in bone marrow cells. The changes are common in human leukemia cells.

Court Case Against ExxonMobil

Court cases rely on evidence, science, and the testimony of experts. The legal team for the plaintiff was able to prove to a jury there was a direct correlation between the exposure and the mechanic’s diagnosis.

In his work as a mechanic, he used solvents and gasoline to clean engine parts with his bare hands. The solvents and gasoline contained benzene, which is a known carcinogen. ExxonMobil was aware benzene exposure was harmful and dangerous. Despite the fact the chemicals were harmful the company did not provide warnings of the health risks associated with exposure.

Common Method for Cleaning Engine Parts

Mechanics once used gasoline and petroleum-based solvents to clean engine parts. People who used these products were not made aware of the risks and few were provided protective equipment to limit or prevent exposure.

Benzene and Cancer

The EPA has studied the carcinogenic effects of benzene for a long time. Workers are typically exposed to higher levels of benzene than the average person. Additionally, the EPA states benzene is a known carcinogen in every form of exposure. People working with benzene products are significantly more likely to develop acute nonlymphocytic leukemia and other blood disorders. Additional blood disorders related to benzene exposure include preleukemia and aplastic anemia.

benzene exposure increases risk of leukemia

The problem with benzene exposure is the health problems are not immediate. Leukemia from benzene exposure can take years (or decades) to develop. In most cases, people who are exposed to industrial benzene products won’t develop symptoms for many years. At that point, it can be difficult to determine the cause.

Why This Court Case Is Important

Holding negligent companies responsible is vital to public safety. When a company knows its product is harmful it must provide adequate warning for users to understand the risks and take proper precautions.

This case is similar to the recent Johnson’s Baby Powder lawsuits. The company knew there was something wrong with the product, but put profits ahead of public safety. For years, the company profits while customers die. Lawsuits punish negligent companies and raise public awareness about dangerous products. Jury verdicts and settlements can also serve as a warning to other companies to do the right thing.

While large jury verdicts and settlements are nice for the victims, most people would rather have their good health back. Older adults (over 60) have a 5-year survival rate of 15% when diagnosed with leukemia. The mechanic in this case will likely die early and in extreme pain due to products he used for work decades ago – And he is not the only one.

Exxon Mobil Vows To Fight

Despite the evidence and a jury verdict against the company, ExxonMobil vowed to fight the decision. A jury verdict isn’t always the final decision in a case. Lawyers for ExxonMobil will likely take any steps available to reduce or toss the verdict. The mechanic and his legal team will likely have to continue this fight for years.

Benzene Leukemia Attorney

Petroleum-based products and gasoline were used for decades to clean engines and parts with no warning about the health hazards. If your situation matches this case – you regularly worked with products containing benzene and were diagnosed with leukemia – talk to an attorney. An attorney can investigate your situation and help you with a claim to punish the companies that put profits before your health and safety.

Contact an attorney at Kane & Silverman for a free legal consultation. Our attorneys can help injured people in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland. You don’t pay us unless we recover money for you – no win, no fee.