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Published on April 27th, 2022 by Andrew Hughes

As a result of exposures to benzene, workers in California’s many industrial settings may be at elevated risk for leukemia. Benzene is a clear, organic chemical with a sweet aroma. Benzene was historically present in petroleum-based products, including penetrating oils, fuels, thinners, degreasers, and lubricants.

Illnesses Caused by Benzene Exposures

Benzene is a Class 1 carcinogen that causes myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and other bone and blood cancers. The attorneys at Hughes Law Offices are experienced leukemia lawyers serving California workers sickened by benzene exposures.

Who is at Risk for Leukemia from Benzene?

Oil refinery workers and tradesmen who work in chemical facilities are at a higher risk of developing leukemia and multiple myeloma. Most pipefitters, engineers, boilermakers, and machinists in chemical facilities were exposed to dangerous levels of benzene. In addition, millwrights, carpenters, and electricians working in refineries were exposed to benzene via site exposures and through the products they used.

Mechanics, gasoline tanker truck drivers, and printers were commonly exposed to benzene. Brake cleaners, gasoline, inks, and penetrating oils have all contained benzene. Many California workers continue to be exposed to hazardous levels of benzene today.

California Industries where Benzene was Present

California has a large share of America’s refining capacity.  Marathon Petroleum, Valero Energy, Phillips 66, and Chevron have refineries in California. Pipes, valves, compressors, and pumps are needed to move all that oil and gasoline. Workers must set up and maintain that infrastructure and are often exposed to benzene-containing products in the process. Additionally, California’s many gas station attendants and mechanics are at elevated risk for leukemia. Countless other workers have spent years around benzene-containing products.  For instance, the Jones Act is a federal law that covers individuals who worked on the navigable waters of the US. Maritime workers diagnosed with leukemia may have strong cases against shippers and their employers.

Is California a Good Place to File a Benzene Leukemia Lawsuit?

The short answer is yes, California courts hear benzene cases regularly.  Why is that?  There are a variety of reasons, but one of the main ones is related to experts. In order to prove up your case, leukemia law firms like Hughes Law Offices must retain a team of experts. These experts help connect your benzene exposures to your resulting illness. In California, the laws regarding the admissibility of experts to testify are relatively favorable to plaintiffs. The strength of your benzene case is often based on the strength of the expert team assembled by your lawyers. It is of the utmost importance that your lawyer knows which experts to retain in every case.

We May Be Able To Help

Benzene-related claims are difficult and complex cases. Hughes Law Offices has experience with benzene cases in California. If you or a loved one has worked around benzene and been diagnosed with leukemia, call 1-800-BENZENE today and speak with a lawyer.

California Benzene Leukemia Verdicts and Settlements

Benzene settlements and verdicts vary by illness, jurisdiction, law firms, and defendants. It is important to know that some cases have resulted in “not guilty” verdicts where the sickened plaintiff received nothing. For your information, Hughes Law Offices has compiled these California benzene verdicts and settlements below:

  • $8,000,000 verdict – The Plaintiff worked as a seaman for Exxon Shipping Company (later renamed SeaRiver Maritime) for 15 years before he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. He worked on several tankers which transported crude oil and a variety of chemicals. The air on these ships was contaminated with benzene. The 52-year-old Plaintiff ultimately had to have his kidney removed and was forced to retire early. The jury compensated him for lost wages, past and future pain and suffering.

  • $6,370,000 settlement – The Plaintiff worked as an automotive mechanic, auto body repairman, and automobile painter for over forty years. During this time, he used a number of benzene-containing automotive solvents and paints. As a result of these exposures, the Plaintiff developed myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). He was diagnosed at the age of 68. His doctors immediately began chemotherapy to fight his illness. The Plaintiff brought suit against a large number of defendants who, after a year and a half of legal posturing, agreed to settle.

  • $2,750,000 settlement – 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 (MDS) which progressed to acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). He was survived by his mother. The Defendants, who initially offered nothing, eventually agreed to settle the case before trial.

  • $1,500,000 settlement – The Plaintiff spent 13 months working as a safety attendant at the Chevron refinery in Richmond and the Equilon refinery in Martinez. 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 (AML), an aggressive cancer that is caused by 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. This is despite the fact that 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 Defendant’s denied they were negligent. The Defendants also argued that the Plaintiff’s illness was terminal so she would have minimal future medical expenses.

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

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