Jury Gives $8.2 Million Verdict for Former Painter for Benzene Exposure

Virgil Hood handled paints and paint thinners manufactured by E.I. DuPont de Nemours daily while working as a painter between 1973 and 1996 for Timpte Trailers, a manufacturer of semi-trailers. He also worked for Continental Airlines. Hood was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes also known as acute myeloid leukemia in 2012. The lawsuit states that he received chemotherapy treatments and after having a bone marrow transplant, he experienced “horrific complications” that included his having pneumonia three times as well as temporary blindness and significant weight loss. The lawsuit also stated that, Hood was battling graft-versus-host disease, in which his body and the new bone marrow are literally attacking one another and experiencing side effects caused by the drugs he took to prevent his body from rejecting the new bone marrow. Although he still worked while undergoing chemotherapy treatments, he had to retire after the transplant.

During the trial, evidence showed that DuPont, the manufacturer of the paints that Hood worked with, that from 1938, DuPont knew that benzene exposure causes bone marrow disease and by 1954, DuPont had warned others to remove benzene from paints. By the late 1960s, it was well established that benzene causes leukemia. Hood representation stated that, “DuPont chose not to take the benzene out of its products or to warn workers like Mr. Hood about the hazards. Instead in 1975 DuPont marched one of its executives before OSHA to deceive the government about cancer hazards of its paint products.”

Another member of Hood’s legal representation during the trial, stated that, “When DuPont learned that the government was considering a safety standard, it thought only of costs to its business. Rather than simply place a cancer warning on its paints, DuPont’s expert presented shoddy test results to OSHA that were nowhere near real-world conditions. DuPont’s whitewashed testing was designed to create the appearance that workers exposed to benzene levels 5 to 10 times above the proposed standard would still be safe.”

The jury awarded Hood $8,243,234, which included $6,743,234 in compensatory damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages against DuPont. The jury found that the painter’s blood cancer was caused by his exposure to benzene contained in DuPont paint and solvents. The jury also found that DuPont failed to properly warn of the dangers of benzene in its products and that Timpte was negligent in protecting its workers.

If you or someone you love is a professional painter or works around paint and they have been diagnosed with cancer or other medical conditions due to exposure to benzene, then you speak to one of our experienced benzene attorneys at the Higgins Firm. We understand what a difficult time this is for you and we will do everything we can to make the process easier. We will help you collect any evidence such as medical and treatment records that be required for your case. We will fight on your behalf to see to it that you get any damages you are eligible for and that the party responsible for your benzene exposure pays for their negligence.

You can contact us online or by calling 800.705.2121 to discuss your case and any questions you might have.

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