Benzene, Gasoline Vapors & In Utero Exposure


Benzene, Gasoline Vapors & In Utero Exposure: A case in the Court of Appeals New York ruled on an appeal to the exclusion of the plaintiff’s expert opinions. 

The Benzene, Gasoline Vapors & In Utero Exposure case is about a mother that gave birth to ache with later diagnosed spastic quadriplegia.  The Plaintiff alleges that the child’s spastic quadriplegia was caused by in utero exposure to unleaded gasoline vapor from a defective fuel hose in his mother’s BMW. 

A brief summary of the case includes:

  1. In May 1989, plaintiff’s father, Guy R., purchased a new BMW 525i for his wife, Debra. She was the only person to drive the car and used it primarily for running local errands.
  2. In the spring of 1991, Debra began to notice a smell of gasoline in the vehicle. She stated the odor “came and went” and that it would often dissipate as she drove. Debra said she could tolerate the smell in the summer when she was able to drive with the windows down, but that at other times it was so strong it caused her headaches, dizziness and throat irritation.
  3. After once taking the car to a repair shop, the vehicle went back to Hassel in November, at which time Hassel discovered a fuel leakage into the engine compartment caused by a split fuel hose. In total, Debra had driven 6,458 miles in the eight months that she smelled gasoline in the vehicle.
  4. Plaintiff was born without difficulty on May 13, 1992. Although his initial Apgar scores were 9 and 10 at one and five minutes after birth, respectively, subsequent testing revealed that plaintiff suffered from severe mental and physical disabilities. He was diagnosed with, among other things, spastic quadriparesis (a form of cerebral palsy), developmental delays, ventricular asymmetry, delayed myelination, microcephaly, aortic stenosis, malformed bicuspid valve, tracheomalacia and impaired visual function.
  5. Two years later, BMW of North America, LLC issued a recall of all 525i vehicles made between 1989 and 1991, due to defects in the feed fuel hoses. It described the defective hoses as being able to “harden and `set’ over time due to engine compartment temperatures,” making it “possible that seepage between the hose and the fitting could result because the clamp cannot provide sufficient sealing force to compensate for the hardening of the hose.” The recall report noted that customers had associated the defect with a “conspicuous fuel odor.”
  6. The Plaintff’s expert opinions were excluded because they did not rely on generally accepted principles and methodologies in concluding that plaintiff was exposed to a sufficient concentration of gasoline vapor to cause his injuries.
  7. The Court ruled: Affirmed the exclusion
  8. For more on the case, please follow this link: Gas Vapors, Cars and Experts – February 11, 2016.

For more on benzene and benzene exposure, please visit – CASE WATCH℠.  Case Watch is a compilation of Benzene exposure cases nationwide and is provided for the seaman and others as a source of information.  We hope that it is both helpful and informative.


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If you have been diagnosed with a serious disease (e.g., bladder cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, aplastic anemia etc.) from benzene exposure, and need a benzene lawyer to help you file a benzene exposure lawsuit, contact our office at 1.844.329.5955.

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