The U.S. District Court in the state of Maryland recently heard the case of a longtime pressman, whose death from Myelodysplastic syndrome is being blamed on years of benzene exposure. The man’s widow filed a lawsuit against several manufacturers and producers of the benzene-containing products that he used during his work at various newspapers and printing companies.
Those companies, led by United States Steel Corporation, filed a motion to dismiss the case based on their assertion that too much time had gone by between his learning that benzene exposure was the cause of his illness and having filed the lawsuit. The court disagreed and is permitting the case to move forward to a trial heard by a jury.
Benzene Exposure Lawsuit Focuses on Long Road to a Diagnosis
The benzene exposure victim was James Coppage, a pressman who worked at several different organizations over his forty-year career. Though his first indication that there was something wrong with his blood occurred in 2012, he did not file a lawsuit against U.S. Steel and the other defendants until 2016. That delay is the basis of the benzene manufacturers’ motion for dismissal – they asserted that the time that went by exceeded Maryland’s statute of limitations and he was barred from filing his lawsuit.
In response, the benzene exposure victim’s widow was able to present information showing that it was not until 2016 that any of the health professionals that Mr. Coppage worked with mentioned a link between his rare blood disorder and benzene exposure. His initial sense that anything was wrong came from routine bloodwork one in 2012, and at that time he was referred to an oncologist who never mentioned the link between his symptoms and his work exposure history. The same was true of other physicians who treated him. It was not until he went to a pharmacy to pick up a chemotherapy prescription in 2016 that a pharmacist handed him a brochure discussing the connection between benzene exposure and his illness. Based on this evidence, the judge denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss.