Victorian claims husband died after being exposed to benzene on the job, sues former employer among others

June 30, 2011 at 1:30 a.m.

A Victoria woman who lost her husband to cancer has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his former employer.

Diana Rubio, wife of Edward Rubio, filed the lawsuit in the Victoria County District Court at the end of May against Safety Railway Service, Edward Rubio's former employer, as well as against product manufacturers Celanese Corporation; Celanese Ltd; Celanese Americas Corporation; Celanese Chemical Inc, E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company; ExxonMobil Corporation; ExxonMobil Oil Corporation; ExxonMobil Texas; GATX; and Union Carbide Corporation.

The plaintiff alleges her husband developed myelodysplastic syndrome, otherwise known as preleukemia, and acute myelogenous leukemia, which he later died of, after being exposed to carcinogenic chemicals while on the job.

Jim Miori, plant manager for Safety Railway Service, Aaron H. Woods, and spokesman for DuPont Operations, and David Eglinton, spokesman for ExxonMobil Corporation, all declined to comment on the case.

Rubio worked as a welder at Victoria's Safety Railway Service, 403 Warehouse Road, from 1994 to 2009, during which time he worked with benzene and products containing benzene.

Rubio died July 15, 2009, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit contends the defendants, who designed, manufactured, sold and distributed the benzene and benzene containing products, knew or should have known these toxic chemicals had the potential for causing cancer and other chronic diseases that could result in death or serious bodily disease.

His wife alleged the defendants were negligent because they failed to warn her husband of any known or reasonable foreseeable dangers of contracting cancer from using their products; instruct him on the proper handling of their products; test their benzene containing products for any adverse health effects upon the human body; recommend the use of adequate personal protective equipment when working with their products, according to the lawsuit.

Additionally, the defendants not only failed to recall or cease using their carcinogenic products, but they also failed to place a safer product into the stream of commerce, which would have prevented Rubio's disease, according to the lawsuit.

"It's our belief that Mr. Rubio's leukemia was related to his exposure to chemicals that were a part of his job. These defendants knew of the dangers and failed to take action to prevent exposure," said Jim Cole, one of the attorneys for the plaintiff.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for the loss of care, maintenance, financial support, services, advice, counsel and contributions she and her children would have received from Edward Rubio had he lived.

She also is seeking damages for loss of companionship, mental anguish, physical pain and mental anguish suffered by Edward Rubio, reasonable medical expenses incurred in Rubio's treatment prior to his death, as well as funeral and burial expenses.

"The thing the family wants most is something to be done to protect other welders from chemicals like this, especially benzene, which for decades has been known to contain carcinogens and be extremely dangerous to people. We have many welders in this area along the Gulf Coast," said Cole. "Leukemia is a tragic disease. The family is seeking compensation for their loss. Hopefully, this lawsuit can result in the protection of other families from having to go through this."



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