Virgil Hood, a 60-year-old Texas man battling cancer, was awarded with an $8.2 million verdict last year against DuPont and his employer, Timpte Trailers, a company that builds semi-trailers. The jury blamed 23 years of benzene exposure from the paints and paint thinners used on the job every day for the development of his cancer.
Hood was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) and Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) during a routine exam in 2012. He has fought the cancer hard with chemotherapy treatments and a bone marrow transplant, which resulted in horrible complications such as pneumonia three different times and temporary blindness. His body then rejected the new bone marrow, which resulted in side effects he deals with on a daily basis.
Evidence that surfaced during the trial proved that DuPont had known since 1938 that benzene causes bone marrow diseases. By 1954, DuPont had warned others to remove benzene from paints.
“But DuPont chose not to take the benzene out of its products or to warn workers like Mr. Hood about the hazards,” the lead trial counsel for Mr. Hood said. “Instead, in 1975 DuPont marched one of its executives before OSHA to deceive the government about cancer hazards of its paint products.”
The lead counsel pointed out the company’s failure to warn, saying, “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.”
“When DuPont learned that the government was considering a safety standard, it thought only of costs to its business,” the plaintiff co-counsel said.
Of the $8.2 million jury verdict, DuPont was ordered to pay 80 percent of the compensatory award, and Timpte is responsible for the remaining 20 percent.
“What is most gratifying to us about this verdict is the impact it will have not just for the Hood family, but for the thousands of other families in America affected by benzene related MDS/AML,” said the lead counsel. “For decades, the manufacturers of benzene-contaminated products have attempted to deny their accountability for injuring hard-working Americans.”