A settlement recently reached between U.S. Steel Corp. and the widow of a Pennsylvania man allegedly exposed to benzene may fuel use of toxic tort lawsuits to sue over benzene exposures. The plaintiff argued that her husband, who had worked as a pressman with former Stanford Register Co., had been exposed on a daily basis to benzene over decades and consequently contracted acute myelogenous leukemia, which caused his death three years after his diagnosis.  The terms of the settlement are confidential.

Prior to settlement, plaintiff’s counsel had submitted several days’ worth of testimony on the defendant’s knowledge and defendant’s lack of warnings of benzene’s potential to cause leukemia or other fatal blood disorders. Benzene is used in the manufacture of plastics, detergents, pesticides, and other chemicals. It is also a component of petroleum-derived fuels.  Recently, OSHA identified benzene exposure as a significant risk to upstream oil and gas workers monitoring and testing flowback and other produced fluids.