Hallquist, Dupont, Benzene & Leukemia

Hallquist, Dupont, Benzene & Leukemia: A case in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division ruled on a motion to dismiss.

The Hallquist, Dupont, Benzene & Leukemia case documents what many people may face today that may have worked in the petroleum industry and the petrochemical industry and been exposed to Benzene – leukemia.

A brief summary of the facts include:

  1. Petitioner Mary Hallquist appeals from the July 9, 2013 order of the Division of Workers’ Compensation, which dismissed her dependency claim against her deceased spouse’s former employer, respondent E.I. DuPont de Nemours.  We affirm.
  2. We discern the following facts from the evidence adduced at trial. Decedent worked as a laboratory technician for respondent from 1968 until he retired in 1998. Between 1977 and 1982, he was assigned to the quality control lab, where he performed duties he referred to as “wet chemistry” in that he worked with liquid chemicals, including benzene. This five-year period of employment formed the basis for decedent’s occupational exposure claim.
  3. During this period, decedent testified that respondent required its employees to attend mandatory safety and training meetings. This training was “chemical specific.” Decedent testified he followed the company’s safety requirements. At all times, decedent wore safety gloves and the uniform provided by respondent, which included “shirts, trousers, and socks and underwear[,]” lab coats, and shoes. When working with certain chemicals, respondent required decedent to wear additional protective clothing, such as an apron, or to use a protective device, like an air mask.
  4. Decedent described the process he used to test chemicals, including benzene. A “runner” would bring an eight-ounce closed jar of the chemical to the laboratory and place it under a “hood.” The hood contained fans that would suck any vapors up into it and out of the building. While the jar was under the hood, decedent would open the jar, and extract a test sample from it with a needle and syringe. Using the syringe, decedent would then inject the sample into the “closed” testing machine. The machine would then produce the test results. In addition to the hood fan, the room had ceiling fans that “sucked the air upward and vented it outside[.]” The sample jar remained under the hood until it was removed by the runner at the end of testing, and taken from the lab.
  5. Although decedent testified he tested benzene, he did not state how often that occurred during the five years he worked in the quality control lab. He stated that he knew what benzene smelled like, but never quantified the number of times he might have smelled this chemical while working in the lab. Decedent recalled that he “was present” when chemical spills occurred in the lab, but he did not remember any specific chemical involved in a spill.
  6. Decedent stated that between the ages of nineteen and twenty-one, he smoked one pack of cigarettes per day. Decedent passed away on June 7, 2010 at the age of seventy-six from complications of multiple myeloma, a form of cancer.
  7. To find out more on the case, see Case No. A-6223-12T2 – October 10, 2014.

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If you have been diagnosed with a serious disease (e.g., leukemia, cancer, kidney cancer, multiple myeloma, non-hodgkins lymphoma 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.