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EEOICPA & RECA Attorneys

Stephens & Stephens has obtained over $60 million through the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act and the Energy Employees Occupation Illness Compensation Act for our clients

Dianne HarperDianne Harper
01:02 17 Feb 24
Robert and I are very pleased with Mr. Hugh Stephens and all that he has done for us. From the first moment we spoke, we sensed that though Mr. Stephens exhibits sharp business acumen, he cares deeply about his clients and he has a huge heart.
Diane pontonDiane ponton
17:38 07 Feb 24
I tried to get others to help me with this claim, and it wasn"t until I hired Mr. Stephens that things started happening. I would recommend any one to get in touch with him . I would go to him again, if i ever needed to.
Judy LeonardJudy Leonard
22:26 06 Feb 24
I very much appreciate the successful litigation concerning my husband's Hanford work related illness. Stephens & Stephens LLP were thorough, caring, considerate, and fair during this difficult time.
Kenneth GKenneth G
18:23 03 Feb 24
Mr. Stephens was able to simplify an otherwise complicated lengthy process (DEEOIC) to file an initial claim as well as a claim for impairment benefits.
dave DONAIDdave DONAID
18:08 03 Feb 24
Frankie KnucFrankie Knuc
19:24 08 Jan 24
I had other attorneys hired in Cortez, Colorado and Grand Jct., Colorado to assist me with receiving my uranium claim, but they were not successful. I was advised by an employee of CNS of Stephens & Stephens, LLP good work. I contacted them & they took my case It was settled very quickly. I have been very pleased with this group & would advise others of their prompt service. I would recommend them to others. Respectfully, Frankie Knuckles
Rebecca ConsolRebecca Consol
19:57 22 Dec 23
My family used Stephen’s and Stephen’s for a settlement case. We were extremely pleased with all they did. They were very professional, easy to get a hold of, and invaluable when it came to answering questions and handling complicated Department of Labor issues and forms. They also did everything in a very timely manner. I have already recommended them to other people.
Thomas CliffordThomas Clifford
15:29 21 Dec 23
I have been represented by Hugh Stevens for several years now, He and his staff has made everything so easy for me. I had lung cancer from working in the uranium processing industry, they have opened so many doors for me and made dealing with DOL so much easier. They always answer my questions in a very timely manner. I have referred several other people to him and he has been able to get them through this process also. There are benefits that I was not aware of that he has brought to my attention and been able to lead me through the process of obtaining them. I would most highly recommend him to lead anyone through this process.
Lonnie killingHawkLonnie killingHawk
02:35 14 Dec 23
When I first contacted Stephens & Stephens I was at the end of my rope with DOL. Hough and his staff got me on track and handled everything with DOL and just made this process so easy. Do not know where I'd be with out them. They are able to communicate at a layman's level and understand the client. Would strongly recommend this firm.
Ruthy LyonRuthy Lyon
21:00 28 Sep 23
Our initial conversation with Mr. Stephens was productive & reassuring. His previous experience with similar cases was obvious and very helpful, in both asking us specific questions for clarification & also addressing our own questions. Breanna is also a great asset to their team.
James O'DayJames O'Day
15:07 13 Sep 23
I have referred several friends to Hugh Stephens and they were more satisfied than they ever expected. I would refer him with confidence to anyone in need. I trust when he speaks for me, for example, in court. He is a good communicator and a deep thinker. He is well respected in his profession. He handles environmental law, injury law, and medical malpractice. He is tactful and direct and knows what he is doing. He knows the legal briar patches well.
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Benzene Leukemia Lawsuits

Over the years, there have been numerous lawsuits against companies that deal in benzene-related products. People filing benzene lawsuits allege that they developed cancer from work-related exposure to benzene chemicals for at least one year. Despite many studies showing the close link between benzene and blood-related cancers, the chemical is still one of the most used and produced chemicals in the US. There have also been consumer lawsuits whereby companies have had to recall benzene-contaminated sunscreens. Benzene lawsuit verdicts and settlements so far have been worth millions of dollars.

Benzene regulations

The US government has put up various measures to limit benzene exposure in the workplace. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to ensure that no employee is exposed to airborne benzene concentration exceeding one part of benzene per million parts of air (1 ppm) as an 8-hour time-weighted average. Also, no employee should be exposed to an airborne benzene concentration over five (5) ppm as averaged over 15 minutes.

These standards have faced a lot of criticism as employees are still developing cancer from these presumed safe levels of exposure. API has been to court challenging the benzene exposure federal regulations of chemical exposure at the workplace, losing in a case that lasted for close to a decade.

According to the National Cancer Institute, there may be no safe level of benzene exposure. Also, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) warn that there are no safe levels of benzene exposure for humans. Studies carried out by the institution in 2004, Annals of Work Exposures and Health, showed Chinese factory workers exposed to benzene levels considered safe in the US to have indications of bone marrow issues that can precede cancer.

The US Environmental Protection Agency  and Department of Health and Human Services classify benzene as a “known human carcinogen.” Cancers related to benzene exposure include:

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia

Benzene occurs naturally in crude oil and is used to manufacture many products, including paint, glue, solvents, chemicals, and synthetics. Employees of companies dealing with benzene and its products are exposed to the chemical every day.

The Center for Public Integrity investigation uncovered that petroleum companies have been interfering with scientific studies that linked low-level benzene exposure to cancer. In 1948, a study by the American Petroleum Institute on the link between benzene and leukemia concluded that the only safe benzene concentration levels were zero. The institution carries out studies and funds projects in the interest of member petroleum companies, including heading off benzene lawsuits and other workers-related issues. An investigative review by journalists involving 20,000 internal communications established that the petroleum industry has known about the link between benzene and leukemia since 1948.

Benzene Verdicts and Settlements

Benzene lawsuits often encounter challenges in court and require attorneys, environmental experts, labor law experts, and medical specialists to prove liability. Cases that succeed in court end up in large settlements. Hugh Stephens is an environmental lawyer who represents victims of benzene work-related injuries. Contact Stephens and Stephens EEOICPA claim attorneys if you or a loved one suffered benzene injuries from work-related exposure. Our services are contingency-based.

Here are some examples of benzene lawsuits:

The family of the Eaves brothers vs Chevron

Gary and Randy Eaves had been working in an Arkansas tire factory for decades before they were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia. They both worked as spray booth operators spraying solvent to tires and carrying them to another location. The company bought the solvent-making machine in 2005. In 2015, Gary died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and Randy died of leukemia in 2018. The families filed lawsuits against the company, alleging that benzene exposure led to the illnesses and death of the two. They also alleged that the two never wore personal protective equipment at work, and Chevron never warned them of the product’s dangers. A California court awarded the family $21.4 Million.

Auto mechanic vs. multiple companies Benzene lawsuits

Jimmy Thomas, an auto-mechanic and painter, worked in an auto repair shop for decades between 1967 and 2008, where he used benzene paint-related products. He was later diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, a cancer that affects blood and bone marrow. Jimmy sued a group of paint manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, claiming that their products led to his illness. The defendants paid him $6.3 Million in 2019, days before the case went to trial.

$5.1M Benzene Lawsuit Verdict (California, 2002)

The plaintiff, a 51-year-old merchant seaman, worked on the defendant’s vessels, hauling crude oil to Southern California from Alaska. He alleged to have experienced chronic benzene exposure in his line of duty, cleaning the tanks and loading and unloading crude oil. He worked on this job for seven years before he was diagnosed with Stage III bladder cancer and underwent chemotherapy, radiation, and multiple surgeries. In his defense, the defendant attributed the cancer to the plaintiff’s smoking history. He was, however, awarded $1.27M in economic damages and $3.84M in non-economic damages. However, the jury attributed 15% fault to the plaintiff and reduced the net award accordingly.

Benzene-contaminated J&J sunscreen recall lawsuits

In July 2021, Johnson and Johnson recalled some Aveeno and Neutrogena aerosol sunscreen brands after lab testing indicated some batches contained benzene. During the recall, J&J advised its consumers to stop using the products immediately, adding that benzene wasn’t part of the ingredients and that they had yet to establish how the contamination occurred.

The recalled J&J brands include Aveeno Protect + Refresh, Neutrogena Beach Defense, Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport, Neutrogena Invisible Daily Defense, and Neutrogena Ultra Sheer aerosol sunscreens. People who used these recalled sunscreens and later developed cancer are suing the company.

Valisure asked the FDA to recall benzene-containing sunscreens that tested positive for benzene. Valisure, an online pharmacy, and lab, found benzene in 78 commonly used sunscreen products, including Banana Boat, CVS Health, and other brands. Some J&J sunscreens not mentioned in the recall also tested positive for benzene. Also, Aerosol dry shampoo and conditioner sprays from six brands containing traces of benzene were recalled by Proctor & Gamble. They include Hair Food, Pantene, Old Spice, Aussie, Herbal Essences, and Waterless (Waterl<ss).

In February 2022, a Florida judge gave preliminary approval to settle the class-action lawsuit over Johnson & Johnson’s contaminated sunscreen. The company must improve its testing protocols and extend its refund program by providing $1.75 million in vouchers.

Banana Boat Recall Class Action

After lab tests showed traces of benzene in several products, Edgewell Personal Care Company recalled more benzene-containing products. The company first recalled Banana Boat Hair & Scalp Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 in 2022. In January 2023, it expanded the list to include other products batch codes 20016AF, 20084BF, 21139AF, and 20301CF- the codes are printed at the bottom of the product.

The company explained that benzene is not an ingredient but contamination from a propellant that sprays the product out of the can. The company added that they discovered the contamination during their internal reviews and refunded consumers who purchased the recalled products.

A class action lawsuit has been filed against the company since November 2021, when the Valisure report indicated that some of the company’s products contained benzene. Some of the Banana Boat products found to contain benzene include  Banana Boat UltraMist Deep Tanning Dry Oil Continuous Clear Spray SPF 4, Banana Boat Kids Max Protect & Play Sunscreen C-Spray SPF 100, Banana Boat Ultra Sport Clear Sunscreen Spray SPF 100, Banana Boat Kids Sport Sunscreen Lotion Spray SPF 50, Banana Boat Protective Dry Oil Clear Sunscreen Spray with Coconut Oil SPF 15, Banana Boat Simply Protect Kids Sunscreen Spray SPF 50+ and Banana Boat Ultra Defense Ultra Mist Clear Sunscreen Spray SPF 100.

Benzene verdicts do not always end up in settlements. There are instances where the plaintiff fails to prove liability, and the cases result in “not guilty” verdicts.

To limit benzene exposure at the workplace, companies that use benzene-related chemicals are required to provide a safe environment for their employees by:

  • Using alternative, safer chemicals
  • Enclosing benzene containers to avoid spilling or splashing
  • Installing ventilation hoods to seal the toxic gas
  • Providing employees with respirators and other personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Regular OSHA safety inspections and implementation recommendations

Employers who disregard their employees’ safety and expose them to toxic chemicals can be held liable. Employees who are diagnosed with benzene-related cancers after workplace exposure to the chemical can seek compensation for their suffering and medical expenses.

People working in companies that use benzene are likely to have high levels of exposure. These include:

  • petrochemicals industries
  • oil and gas refining
  • chemical coke and coal manufacturing
  • rubber tire manufacturing
  • storage and transport of benzene and benzene-containing petroleum products
  • Gasoline fueling stations

Benzene exposure and leukemia

Leukemia is a cancer affecting white blood cells or leucocytes responsible for protecting the body against infections. It is a malignant progressive disease affecting the bone marrow and other blood-producing organs. The disease leads an increase in the production of immature and abnormal leukocytes. As a result, the person suffers from anemia symptoms because the abnormal blood cells produced cannot fully perform the required functions.

Studies by the National Cancer Institute and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have shown a link between benzene exposure and leukemia. Benzene exposure through inhalation, or skin absorption, is linked to various blood cancers as discussed below.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, or Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, is the most common leukemia associated with benzene exposure. It starts from the bone marrow, where new blood cells are formed causing the formation of abnormal leucocytes called myeloblast. This type of blood cancer is “acute,” meaning it can progress quickly, leading to death within months if not treated. It occurs more in children than adults and accounts for 20% of adult leukemia cases. Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is also known by other names, including acute myelocytic leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia, and acute non-lymphocytic.

Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

Chronic Myeloid Leukemia or chronic myelogenous leukemia is a rare form of leukemia that also begins in the bone marrow. It is associated with a genetic change in early or immature myeloid cells — the cells that produce all blood cells, including red blood cells, platelets, and types of white blood cells. The change leads to an abnormal gene called BCR-ABL, which causes the formation of CML cells.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) is also a type of blood and bone marrow cancer. “Chronic,” meaning that it progresses more slowly than others. The disease is common in older adults. According to the CDC, chronic lymphocytic leukemia affects four people in a 100,000 population in the US.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a blood cancer affecting lymphocytes or white blood cells, which help fight pathogens. Since blood cells circulate throughout the body, non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma can occur in any part.  The disease is specifically associated with workplace exposure to carcinogens, such as benzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and glyphosate, and it affects 70,000 people in the US annually.

Benzene exposure can also lead to other cancers, including multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndrome/Myelodysplasia, and Aplastic anemia- a condition where the bone marrow does not make enough blood cells. In most cases, the disease is diagnosed long after exposure, and the worker doesn’t realize the disease occurred from benzene exposure.

How does benzene cause leukemia?

Benzene exposure can be through contact, ingestion, or inhalation. According to medical research, benzene is metabolized in the liver, and some of the chemical by-products travel to the bone marrow, where they create a toxic environment inhibiting its ability to manufacture healthy blood cells.

According to the CDC, the risk of developing blood cancer from benzene exposure depends on the levels of exposure and the period of exposure, among other factors. Long-term exposure is at least one year. Also, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), prolonged exposure (over years) can have a cumulative effect.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports suggest that benzene can cause a risk of one more cancer case for every 100,000 people who:

  • regularly drink water containing 10 parts per billion (ppb) of benzene over their lifetime
  • breathe in 0.4 ppb of benzene in the air regularly during their lifetime

Signs of benzene exposure

The symptoms of leukemia may appear years after exposure to benzene, including fatigue, weight loss, night sweats, fever, and loss of appetite. There are, however, symptoms that a person may experience immediately after exposure to high levels of benzene, and they include dizziness, headache, drowsiness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, confusion, loss of consciousness, and death in cases of extremely high benzene exposure.

When ingested, the chemical immediately triggers stomach irritation, dizziness, vomiting, convulsions, sleepiness, irregular or rapid heartbeat, and even death in extreme conditions.

Long-term effects of benzene exposure

  • The most significant effect of long-term benzene exposure of at least one year is leukemia. Whereby the chemical interferes with the production of red blood cells, causing anemia, compromised immunity/ frequent infections, and excessive bleeding.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reports that benzene exposure may cause cancer in humans. Frequent exposure lasting for a year or longer can cause leukemia or cancer of the blood-forming organs. Workers exposed to high levels of benzene, such as those working in oil refineries, are likely to suffer from acute myeloid leukemia.
  • In women, prolonged exposure to benzene can result in irregular menstrual periods and smaller ovary size.
  • Animal studies on benzene exposure through inhalation during pregnancy have shown an increased risk of low birth weight, delays in bone formation, and damage to the bone marrow.

What to do if exposed to benzene

If exposed to high levels of airborne benzene, the CDC advises everyone present to leave the area immediately and go outside if they are inside. In case of physical contact with clothing or skin, the individual should wash it off and immediately seek medical assistance. CDC also recommends cutting off the clothing to avoid touching other body parts when removing.

Benzene can be removed from the skin with plenty of soap and water. If it comes into contact with the eyes, rinse them with fresh water for about fifteen minutes, and if you are wearing contact lenses, remove and dispose of them.

Contact Hugh Stephens for help filing a Benzene lawsuit

Stephens and Stephens Benzene exposure attorneys represent victims of Benzene injuries at workplace. Filing a lawsuit aginst your  employer can help you get compensation for your pain and suffering. Call us today for a free case evaluation.