A Benzene lawsuit may be an option for people who were exposed to the common chemical and suffered serious complications. Benzene is a compound found in 20 of the most commonly used chemicals in the United States. It has been considered carcinogenic to humans and is reportedly known to cause certain cancers and adverse conditions, including some forms of leukemia and anemia. Affected individuals and their families may be eligible to pursue compensation with the help of a product liability attorney.
For more information, contact the Attorney Group. We offer free, confidential, no obligation consultations. We can help answer your questions, and if you choose to pursue a case we can connect you with an affiliated benzene lawsuit attorney who can assist you throughout the legal process.
Have You Seen a Benzene Lawsuit Commercial?
You may have seen benzene lawsuit commercial on television and wondered whether you or a loved one have been affected by the exposure to benzene and, if so, whether you are eligible to pursue a claim against the manufacturer or others. The purpose of this article is to provide you with additional information so that you have a better understanding of your options.
What is Benzene?
Benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid and natural element found in crude oil. It is formed from both natural processes and human activities and is often found in gasoline, other fuels and tobacco smoke. According to the American Cancer Society, benzene is widely used in the United States and is primarily used in “making other chemicals such as plastics, lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs and pesticides.”
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, everyone is exposed to a small amount of benzene every day. Benzene exposure is most likely to occur around tobacco smoke, gas stations, exhaust from motor vehicles and other industrial emissions. Ingestion and skin absorption may also occur through contact with contaminated water. People can be exposed to benzene at work, in the general environment, and through the use of some consumer products.
Workplace exposure, typically in industrial processes, is most common. Workers in industries that make or use the chemical may be exposed, including the rubber industry, oil refineries, chemical plants, shoe manufacturers and gasoline-related industries.
Other types of workers who may be exposed to benzene include:
- Steel workers
- Lab technicians
- Gas station employees
Benzene is commonly found in the air we breathe, but the levels are usually low. Exposure to cigarette smoke and secondhand smoke contain benzene and account for about half of the exposure in the United States.
Exposure to benzene has been reportedly linked to leukemia and other forms of cancer, including those that affect bone marrow and blood production.
According to the World Health Organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified benzene as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1). Because of the potential effects of benzene exposure, benzene is regulated by the federal government.
Benzene and Leukemia
A number of organizations throughout the world, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the IARC, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, acknowledge a relationship between exposure to benzene and the occurrence of various types of leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow and blood.
Specifically, long-term exposure to benzene has been associated with acute myeloid leukemia or acute nonlymphocytic leukemia, a cancer characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells that build up in the bone marrow and interfere with the production of normal blood cells.
Acute myeloid leukemia progresses rapidly as myeloid cells interfere with the production of normal white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Symptoms may include fatigue, recurrent infections and bruising easily. Chemotherapy, other drug therapies and stem-cell transplants are often used to treat the disease.
Immediate Side Effects of Benzene Exposure
According to the CDC, people who breathe in high levels of benzene may develop certain symptoms within minutes to several hours of exposure, including:
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Symptoms related to eating foods or drinking beverages containing high levels of benzene include:
- Stomach irritation
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Additionally, direct exposure to the eyes, skin or lungs may cause tissue injury and irritation.
Other Benzene Risks
Long-term exposure to benzene primarily harms the bone marrow, where new blood cells are made. According to the American Cancer Society, long-term exposure affecting the bone marrow can lead to:
- anemia, which can cause a person to feel weak and tired;
- a low white blood cell count, which can lower the body’s ability to fight infections and might even be life-threatening; and
- a low blood platelet count, which can lead to excess bruising and bleeding.
When benzene enters the bloodstream, it is converted to metabolites in the liver and bone marrow. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, some of the harmful effects of benzene can be caused by these metabolites, potentially having adverse effects on the lungs, heart and brain.
Has There Been Benzene Recall?
Although there has not been a benzene recall, several products have been recalled due to the presence of the chemical. In February 1990, the New York Times reported that Perrier, manufacturer of bottled mineral water, voluntarily recalled “its entire inventory of Perrier from store shelves throughout the United States after tests showed the presence of the chemical benzene in a small sample of bottles.”
According to CBS News, a government analysis of over 100 soft drinks in 2006 suggested that five types of beverages contained levels of benzene exceeding federal drinking water standards. Although the soft drinks were not recalled, several manufacturers reportedly reformulated their product to limit future reactions that may cause benzene levels to increase. Benzene formulates in soft drinks due to the presence of ascorbic acid and other chemicals such as sodium benzoate. While these chemicals do not contain benzene themselves, they can react with various other elements, including sunlight and temperature changes, to cause benzene to form.
Failure to warn of the risks associated with a product can be a basis of product liability, regardless of whether the product has been recalled.
Lauren A. on May 16, 2016
Attorney Group reviewed by:"These guys are a pleasure to work with -- very strategic and very responsive, which makes for a great business partner! I can tell that they are passionate about making sure all clients get the attention and expertise they deserve."Rating: 5 ★★★★★Lauren A. on May 16, 2016
Attorney Group reviewed by:"These guys are a pleasure to work with -- very strategic and very responsive, which makes for a great business partner! I can tell that they are passionate about making sure all clients get the attention and expertise they deserve."Rating: 5 ★★★★★
Is There Benzene Class Action?
There is no benzene class action pending as of May 2017. Benzene lawsuit attorneys are doubtful that a class action will be certified for patients who are adversely affected by the chemical. Instead, if multiple benzene lawsuits are filed against the drug makers alleging injuries and other damages caused by benzene and other chemicals, it is anticipated that these lawsuits will be consolidated for discovery and other pretrial proceedings.
When cases are consolidated in this way in federal court it is called multidistrict litigation (MDL), and on a state level, it is known as a state court consolidated proceeding. MDLs are distinct from class actions, and it is generally agreed that consolidating cases instead of proceeding in a class action is a more efficient and effective way of handling claims arising from injuries caused by pharmaceutical products.
Have There Been Benzene Settlements?
Some cases may settle early in the claims process, but it is not expected that there will be early benzene lawsuit settlements associated with claims against consumer product companies whose product allegedly led a person to suffer from leukemia or other adverse condition.
However, a settlement was reached in February 2009, when BP Products agreed to pay nearly $180 million to settle alleged clean air violations that occurred at a refinery in Texas City, Texas. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “BP failed to fulfill its obligations under the law, putting air quality at risk,” after the company reportedly violated Clean Air Act regulations requiring strict controls on benzene and benzene-containing wastes that were generated during their petroleum refining operations.
Likewise, several benzene lawsuits have ended in jury verdicts, and the plaintiffs in those cases were awarded compensation for damages associated with their alleged injuries.
While some cases have concluded in this way, the outcome of any case is never guaranteed and past results are not necessarily predictive of future outcomes.
Benzene Lawsuit Claims
Benzene lawsuits have been filed throughout the U.S. after plaintiffs claim to have developed serious adverse health consequences, including acute myeloid leukemia. In 2016, a Pennsylvania man was awarded $824,000 after he claimed that there was a link between his leukemia diagnosis and exposure to benzene allegedly found in printing solvent sold by U.S. Steel.
In a separate lawsuit brought against DuPont, a Texas man was awarded $8.2 million after he claimed to have developed leukemia following exposure to benzene allegedly found in solvents and paint products manufactured and sold by the company.
Workers in industries where benzene is prevalent may be eligible to recover compensation for damages. Manufacturers, suppliers, refineries, and others who provide the chemical without adequate warnings may be held responsible for individuals who have been diagnosed with leukemia and other conditions after benzene exposure.
Benzene Lawsuit News
- February 2016According to Law360, a Pennsylvania state court jury found U.S. Steel liable for concealing the risks of benzene and awarded $824,000 in damages to man who allegedly developed acute myeloid leukemia after working with printing solvent containing benzene.
- October 2015According to Law360, a Texas man was awarded $8.2 million after he claimed to have developed leukemia following exposure to benzene allegedly found in solvents and paint products manufactured and sold by DuPont.
- April 2015Wrongful death lawsuit filed claiming that Safety Kleen Inc. and other companies manufactured and/or sold products that contained unreasonably dangerous levels of benzene, which led to the death of the plaintiff’s husband.
- August 2014CDC releases findings of a study evaluating the potential effects of fracking on those who work in the industry, including possible exposure to dangerous levels of benzene.
- February 2009BP Products agreed to pay nearly $180 million after the company reportedly violated Clean Air Act regulations requiring strict controls on benzene and benzene-containing wastes that were generated during their petroleum refining operations.
- February 2009Texas man files lawsuit claiming that he developed chronic lymphocytic leukemia after three decades of alleged benzene exposure while working around solvents and chemicals at an Amoco refinery.
- May 2006According to a report published by CBS News, a government analysis of over 100 soft drinks and other beverages suggested that five of the drinks contained levels of cancer-causing benzene exceeding federal government standards.
How a Benzene Lawsuit Can Help
Product makers have a duty to provide safe products. If there are risks of harm associated with their products, they also must provide adequate warnings. If a product maker fails to fulfill this duty, it could be held liable in lawsuits for injuries that may result.
People injured by the fault of others may be eligible to recover money for:
Pain and Suffering
The families of those killed may be eligible to recover money for funeral expenses and the pain that comes with losing a loved one.