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Benzene in Fuels

As a result of gasoline and other fuel exposures, many tradespeople are at increased risk for leukemia. If you worked around fuels and you’ve been diagnosed with leukemia, call 1-800-BENZENE today.

Who is at Risk for Leukemia from Fuel Exposures?

While many tradespeople fuel their equipment, these workers are at elevated risk for leukemia due to long-term gasoline/fuel exposures:

Which Cancers are Caused by Fuel Exposures?

The blood and bone marrow cancers most strongly associated with long term exposures to toxic fuels, include:

Why do Fuel Exposures Cause Leukemia?

Chronic fuel exposures can lead to the development of cancer because many common fuels contain benzene. Benzene is a naturally occurring component of crude oil. It is a Group 1 carcinogen that targets the blood and bone marrow systems. Examples of other Group 1 carcinogens include asbestos, plutonium, and tobacco.

How do Benzene Cases Work?

In most cases, we will target the manufacturers of the benzene-containing fuels and the property owners where exposures occurred. In railroad and maritime cases, we will sue the employers whose negligence failed to protect you from these toxic exposures.

Which Fuel Contains the Most Benzene?

Of the fuels that Americans regularly encounter, unleaded gasoline has the most benzene. Unleaded gasoline is one of the most common benzene exposure routes for working Americans. However, some American workers may encounter specialized fuels, fuel derivatives, or feedstocks that contain more benzene than what is present in gasoline. Some of our refinery and maritime workers have described exposures to pure benzene.

How can Benzene Exposures Occur?

Dangerous levels of benzene can enter your body through inhalation, ingestion, or absorption through the skin. Inhaling fuel vapors is one of the most common benzene exposure routes.  We have represented mechanics who used to clean parts with gasoline. Those workers suffered dangerous dermal exposures – where the benzene is absorbed through the skin directly into the bloodstream.

Have you Received a Diagnosis After Chronic Fuel Exposures?

If you or a loved one endured long term fuel exposures and have been diagnosed with a related disease, the attorneys at Hughes Law Offices may be able to help. These are complicated cases that require experienced attorneys. While you and your loved ones focus on recovery, let us do the work needed to prove your case. Contact Hughes Law Offices today at 1 (800) 236-9363 for a free attorney consultation.

Fuel Exposure Verdicts & Settlements

$575,000 settlement (Pennsylvania, 2019)

The Decedent worked as a laborer, electrician, and maintenance supervisor at the Defendant’s Pennsylvania refinery from 1973 until 2001. The Decedent subsequently developed atypical chronic lymphocytic leukemia that rapidly progressed into acute myeloid leukemia. The Decedent passed away and his estate brought suit against his former employer. The estate claimed that during his employment he was exposed to fuels containing various levels of benzene, naphtha, and even pure benzene. The estate alleged that these exposures caused the Decedent’s illness. (Nelson v. BP)

$15,340,00 verdict (Minnesota, 2016)

A 49-year-old locomotive engineer was working for BNSF Railway at the Northtown Yard in Fridley, Minnesota when tank cars containing casinghead gasoline vented poisonous fumes where he was working. The railroad covered up the fact that he had been exposed to casinghead gasoline which prevented the Plaintiff from receiving adequate medical care. As a result of the exposure, the Plaintiff suffered a severe degenerative neurological injury. By the time the case got to trial, he could barely walk. The jury awarded $15,340,000 in damages and also ordered BNSF to pay an additional $5,840,000 as a sanction for its misconduct. (Kowalewski v. BNSF)

$2,308,513 verdict (California, 2015)

The Plaintiff worked as a maritime worker aboard the Defendant’s ships from 1988 to 1996. During that time he was regularly exposed to crude oil and other carcinogens. The Plaintiff subsequently developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. At the time of trial, the Plaintiff’s illness was in remission. (Lammers v. TOTE Services)

$17,498,000 verdict (Louisiana, 2012)

The Plaintiff spent four years working as a petroleum inspector on ships and barges that were owned by Chevron, Texaco, and Unocoal during the 1980s. While performing his normal duties, he was regularly exposed to benzene. Many years later, the Plaintiff, then age 48, was diagnosed with leukemia and colon cancer. The lawsuit advanced to trial against Chevron only. Chevron was sanctioned for failing to produce corporate representatives for deposition. As a result, the court ordered that the parties proceed to trial on damages only. The jury awarded $5,498,000 in compensatory damages and an additional $12,000,000 in punitive damages. (McWilliams v. Chevron)

$7,500,000 verdict (Nevada, 2011)

The Plaintiff, a tanker truck driver, endured chronic exposures to benzene during a six-year period loading and delivering gasoline from the Defendant’s fuel terminal in Las Vegas. As a result of his exposure to benzene, the Plaintiff developed myelodysplastic syndrome and passed away shortly after his diagnosis at the age of 58. At trial, the Plaintiff’s estate presented evidence that showed his exposure to benzene had caused chromosomal damage to his DNA. Prior to trial, the estate agreed to confidential settlements with the other Defendants. (Claytor v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners)

Confidential Settlement (Louisiana, 2010)

The Plaintiff worked as a gas station attendant for Defendant from 1965 through 1978. His work required him to pump gas and perform various mechanic tasks on automobiles while using the Defendant’s oil products. Years later, the Plaintiff was diagnosed with leukemia. The Plaintiff brought suit alleging that it was his exposure to the Defendant’s benzene-containing fuel and oil that caused his leukemia. The parties agreed to a confidential settlement out of court. (Sanderson v. Shell Oil)

Confidential Settlement (Illinois, 2006)

The Plaintiff, a veteran, served as a jet mechanic for the U.S. Marine Corps from 1973 to 1989. During his time in the Corps, he worked at various bases around the country. He later developed chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The Plaintiff alleged that his exposure to benzene in JP-4 jet fuel manufactured by the defendant was the cause of his illness. Following the Defendant’s unsuccessful motion practice, the parties agreed to a confidential settlement. (Lambert v. Shell Oil)

$5,110,000 verdict (California, 2002)

The Plaintiff, age 51, worked as a merchant seaman on the Defendant’s vessels, hauling crude oil from Alaska to Southern California. He was exposed to benzene while assisting with the loading and unloading of crude oil and while cleaning the tanks, bilges, engines, and below-deck spaces.  After seven years working for the Defendant, he was diagnosed with Stage III bladder cancer. The Plaintiff underwent chemotherapy, radiation, and multiple surgeries. The Defendant argued that the Plaintiff’s minor smoking history was the cause of his illness. The award included $1,270,000 in economic damages and $3,840,000 in non-economic damages. The jury attributed 15 percent fault to the Plaintiff; the net award was reduced accordingly. (Gregory v. SeaRiver Marine, Inc.)

$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 AML 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. (Griffith v. Capiello)

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




[4] API Toxicological Review Benzene September 1948 (“Insomuch as the body develops no tolerance to benzene, and as there is a wide variation in individual susceptibility, it is generally considered that the only absolutely safe concentration for benzene is zero”).

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