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Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a fast-growing cancer of the bone marrow and blood which can be caused by benzene exposures. Individuals who work around petroleum-based products, fuels and paints are at increased risk for developing AML.  At Hughes Law Offices, we file lawsuits against product manufacturers, property owners and employers whose negligence contributed to our clients’ illnesses.  Call us at 1-800-BENZENE to learn more today.

Acute myeloid leukemia is also known as acute myelogenous leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia. AML is the most common type of acute leukemia and is most common in adults. AML attacks myeloid cells, which are white blood cells in the bone marrow. The cells are not able to mature and are unable to ward off infections. As the unhealthy cells build up they crowd out healthy cells.

AML benzene

What Causes Acute Myeloid Leukemia?

The most common cause for AML is previous exposures to carcinogenic substances like benzene. Benzene is a component of petroleum products including gasoline. Benzene was often used as a base material in products such as solvents, detergents, degreasers, lubricants, inks, glues, plastics, rubbers, pesticides, paints, coatings, polishes, and thinners. Workers in industries that utilized or manufactured these products are at increased risk for Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

Who is at Risk for Acute Myeloid Leukemia from Benzene?

Most of our clients suffered benzene exposures at work. Benzene can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled or ingested.  While jobs with benzene exposures are varied, jobs well known for exposures include:

AML benzene

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Symptoms

Typical symptoms of the early stages of AML may seem a lot like the flu or other common diseases. Fever, fatigue, weight loss, pale skin, shortness of breath, and bone pain are common symptoms. Other signs and symptoms may include bruising easily, frequent infections, and unusual bleeding, especially in the nose and gums. Contact a doctor for further diagnoses if you develop any signs or symptoms that seem unusual.

Treatment Options for Acute Myeloid Leukemia

There are two basic phases of treatment for AML: remission induction therapy and consolidation or maintenance therapy. The first phase of treatment is to kill the leukemia cells in the bone marrow and blood. The next step is aimed at destroying the remaining leukemia cells. This will decrease the risk of relapse. The most common therapies included in these two stages are chemotherapy, radiation therapy, bone marrow stem cell transplant, targeted therapy, drug therapy, and/or biological therapy.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia – Benzene Verdicts and Settlements

$3,500,000 settlement (Florida, 2020)

The Plaintiff, a lifelong mechanic, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in his late 40’s. He alleged that he was exposed to benzene while using products such as Liquid Wrench, Marvel Mystery Oil, Safety-Kleen, and mineral spirits. His earliest exposures to benzene-containing products occurred when he was only about ten years old. The Defendants argued that the Plaintiff’s illness was the result of his decades-long smoking history. The parties reached a $3.5 million settlement.

$300,000 settlement (Virginia, 2019)

The Plaintiff, a former railroad machinist, was employed by Norfolk Southern Railway for 31 years before being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at the age of 70. During his time with the railroad, he endured chronic exposures to petroleum solvents which he used on a daily basis in the locomotive shop. The Plaintiff produced Norfolk Southern records of meetings between railroad officials in which the use of benzene and the knowledge of its hazardous nature were discussed as early as the 1960s. 

$840,000 verdict (Pennsylvania, 2016)

The Plaintiff, a printer in his mid-50s, sued US Steel after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. The Plaintiff alleged that US Steel manufactured benzene and that the benzene was a component of the inks and solvents he used between 1973 and 2006. He argued that US Steel was aware of the dangers of benzene in the early 1950s, but kept that information from the public and end users. The Jury determined that US Steel was recklessly indifferent to the rights and/or safety of others. The jury also found that US Steel fraudulently concealed important information about the dangers of its benzene. The Plaintiff sued other makers and sellers of benzene containing inks and solvents. Some of those other Defendants settled before trial or were dismissed.

$7,500,000 verdict (Illinois, 2016)

The 51-year-old Plaintiff worked as a maintenance-of-way employee for Chicago & North Western Railway and its successor Union Pacific Railroad from 1976 to 2008. During his employment he endured years of exposure to benzene-laden chemicals such as creosote, coal tar distillates, carbolineum, naphtha, and various cleaning solvents. Following these exposures, he developed acute myeloid leukemia. At trial, the jury awarded plaintiff compensation for the railroad’s failure to provide a safe workplace.

Confidential settlement (Louisiana, 2013)

The Plaintiff worked as a general mechanic for Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp. at their Louisiana industrial facility from 1973 to 1978. The Plaintiff’s work required him to use large amounts of Liquid Wrench which, at the time, was purportedly contaminated with benzene. In his complaint, the Plaintiff also alleged that he was exposed to large amounts of benzene while working around some of the refining machinery. Kaiser had allegedly used benzene to de-dust some refining machinery beginning in 1972. The Plaintiff claimed that his chronic exposure to benzene caused damage to his bone marrow and other blood-forming tissue resulting in acute myeloid leukemia which ultimately led to his death. The parties settled for a confidential amount prior to trial.

Confidential settlement (Massachusetts, 2010)

The survivors of a deceased automobile mechanic alleged he was exposed to benzene while using Safety-Kleen solvent during his employment. His exposure to benzene led to the development of acute myeloid leukemia. Following his death, his widow brought suit against Safety-Kleen for the wrongful death of her husband. Following Safety-Kleen’s unsuccessful motion practice, the parties agreed to a confidential settlement.

$3,200,000 verdict (Texas, 2008)

The Plaintiff, a helper, rigger, and leadman on barges, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia allegedly resulting from benzene exposure. Plaintiff claimed his benzene exposure occurred via the solvents, such as Liquid Wrench, that his employer supplied him with to clean tools. Historically, some industrial solvents like Liquid Wrench contained high mixtures of benzene.

$2,750,000 settlement (California, 2002)

The Plaintiff was a carpenter who was hired to do construction work on foundations for facilities at the Mobil Oil refinery in Torrance. During this time, he was exposed to petroleum hydrocarbon vapors, including benzene, from contaminated soil. The Plaintiff alleged that Mobil was negligent in the maintenance of its premises and even concealed the on-site hazards related to benzene and other toxins. The 33-year-old Plaintiff passed away after developing myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia. He was survived by his mother. The Defendants, who initially offered nothing, eventually agreed to settle the case before trial.

$1,500,000 settlement (California, 2002)

The Plaintiff spent 13 months working as a safety attendant at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California  and the Equilon refinery in Martinez, California. Her employment required her to work 12-hour shifts where she was continuously exposed to benzene. The 49-year-old Plaintiff subsequently developed acute myelogenous leukemia, an aggressive cancer that is strongly linked to benzene. In her complaint, she alleged that the defendants failed to monitor for benzene and even falsely prepared permits claiming that the benzene levels were being monitored even though there were no monitors capable of detecting benzene at either of the job sites. The Plaintiff claimed medical expenses, lost wages, and punitive damages. The Defendants denied they were negligent. Moreover, the Defendants contended that the Plaintiff’s illness was terminal so she would have minimal future medical expenses.

$1,500,000 settlement (Massachusetts, 2000)

The Decedent had worked as a pump man aboard various tankers in the 1970s and 1980s where he was exposed to benzene. In 1994, about 15 years after his last exposure to benzene, the decedent was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Prior to and during that 15-year period, decedent had been a heavy smoker. Plaintiff passed away from acute myeloid leukemia in 1995. The widow brought suit against the vessel claiming her late husband’s AML was caused by his exposure to benzene while working aboard the tanker. The parties reached a $1.5 million settlement.

$5,834,221 verdict (Louisiana, 2000)

The Plaintiff was employed by Sabine Towing for 39 years working as a seaman, quartermaster, boatswain, third mate, second mate, chief mate, and master. Over the course of his career, he was exposed to benzene and benzene-containing products being transported on Sabine’s vessels. As a result of his exposure, he developed myeloproliferative disorder which quickly evolved into acute myeloid leukemia. He died shortly thereafter, and his wife filed the lawsuit on behalf of his estate. The jury found Sabine Towing responsible, along with Chevron, Conoco, Marathon, and Dow Chemical.

Hughes Law Offices is providing these case histories to inform visitors about actual benzene case fact patterns, settlements, verdicts, and rulings. Unless specifically noted, the cases summarized herein were not handled by attorneys at Hughes Law Offices. 

To learn if you have a case, please call 1-800-BENZENE and speak with an attorney today. Your time to file a claim may be running out.

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