Allen Stewart P.C. on Benzene
Firm Stands By Two Decades of Benzene Lawsuit Experience
Benzene is an insidious chemical, present in many commercial and industrial products. Scientifically shown to cause cancer, some companies in the past took steps to remove benzene from their products, though not all were successful. Others still refuse to acknowledge benzene’s current dangers even at low exposure levels.
Fortunately, the attorneys of Allen Stewart, P.C. have a proven track record of bringing these companies to justice and getting victims and their families fair compensation.
Benzene is an aromatic hydrocarbon compound used in plastic, resin and dye manufacturing. Numerous scientific studies detail benzene’s link to various adverse health effects, including acute myeloid leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Benzene is widely used in gasoline to increase its octane rating. It replaced lead, a known neurotoxin, as an anti-knock agent in gasoline.
Industries most commonly linked to benzene exposure include petrochemical manufacturing, petroleum refining, coke and coal chemical manufacturing, rubber tire manufacturing, gasoline storage, shipment and retail operations, plastics and rubber manufacturing, and shoe manufacturing.
Occupations particularly vulnerable to benzene exposure include steelworkers, printers, mechanics, petroleum workers, rubber workers, shoemakers, laboratory technicians and gas station employees.
In its 1982 monograph, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found that sufficient scientific evidence existed linking benzene and human cancer.
Since 1982 IARC has reaffirmed their benzene statement with additional findings from new studies over the years. IARC wrote in their 2012 benzene monograph that they observed a positive association between benzene exposure and acute lymphocytic leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, multiple myeloma and NHL.
“Benzene is carcinogenic to humans,” according to IARC (and all other reputable scientific bodies).
The monograph stated “A series of cohort and case–control studies showed statistically significant associations between occupational exposure to benzene and benzene-containing solvents and leukemia (predominantly myelogenous leukemia).”
The monograph states numerous cohort studies since 1987 link occupational benzene exposure to leukemia and its various subtypes, and other cancers including non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), and multiple myeloma. IARC studies connect occupational benzene exposure to acute myelogenous leukemia, acute non-lymphocytic leukemia, and acute lymphocytic leukemia.
Attorney Allen Stewart said he and his firm have pursued benzene cancer lawsuits for two decades.
“Benzene lawsuit cases require a specific knowledge of the science underlying them,” Stewart said. “They require attention to detail and a thorough understanding of what an important occupational exposure looks like.”
Benzene lawsuits were a natural progression for the firm after Stewart established a successful track record litigating other chemical-related cancer cases. Stewart said companies manufacturing products containing benzene often don’t disclose the benzene content in a straightforward way.
“That’s the pernicious nature of these companies,” Stewart said. “They know (their product) has benzene in it, but they refuse to put it on the label.”
Stewart says plaintiffs’ lawyers trying benzene cancer cases must understand what constitutes a relevant benzene exposure, as it is not always readily apparent.
“A mechanic using a spray can have significant benzene exposures, even though the can is small,” he says. “The benzene can be released in the air and into the breathing zone of the worker. Those can be significant exposures if they happen with frequency and duration in close proximity to the worker.”
He says chemical companies will defensively question whether or not the worker actually used their product, even when all the testimony from the client and others proves without a doubt the worker did. The company will also question how often the client used the chemical, or will accuse the client of using the chemical hazardously.
“It’s not always logical what chemical companies in benzene lawsuits do, or even supported by the evidence, but they are always willing to manufacture a defense,” Stewart says. “This is nothing new. It’s a lot of denial, and refusing to accept responsibility when their product contributes to cause a worker’s cancer.”
The lawyers of Allen Stewart P.C. have demonstrated to chemical companies that the firm is ready, willing and able to try benzene lawsuits to verdict if the companies are unwilling to offer reasonable compensation to the firm’s clients who are cancer victims.
“Chemical companies fight hard to avoid liability, but we’ve had an excellent track record of fighting back, which has enabled us to have positive results,” Stewart says.
Allen Stewart, P.C. handles fewer benzene cases than some other firms, yet tries more of its benzene cases to verdict than other firms. Stewart’s rationale is fairly straightforward:
“They’re worth it,” he says. “Cancer is serious. It’s life-threatening, or life-ending. It’s always scary, it’s always expensive. Cancer upsets one’s life like few other things do, and victims should be justly compensated. If we determine a chemical company is unwilling to reasonably compensate the people they hurt, we will head to the courthouse and let a jury render a verdict. It’s worked out well over the years.”