A Pennsylvania state jury determined that U.S. Steel Corp. is liable for hiding risks of benzene exposure, resulting in Louis DeSorbo of Connecticut to develop Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
The jury sided with DeSorbo and awarded him with an $824,000 verdict after finding that his leukemia was linked to benzene exposure partly from the printing solvents made by U.S. Steel. The jury also expressed on the verdict sheet that the company acted with “reckless indifference.”
Louis DeSorbo was a press operator for 30 years, with exposure going as far back as trade school. According to DeSorbo, the state of Illinois recommended that U.S. Steel remove the carcinogenic chemical from its products back in 1967, but the company ignored the state’s urging and continued to sell the benzene-containing product for another 10 years.
“The jury found that U.S. Steel had actual knowledge of benzene’s ability to cause leukemia and blood poisoning and that benzene should be replaced by less toxic solvents,” DeSorbo’s attorney said. “In addition, we were able to show that U.S. Steel fraudulently concealed that information by not warning about these dangers, thereby acting with reckless indifference to the rights and safety of others.”
Although the most common way for benzene exposure to happen is through inhalation, benzene is also a chemical that that can be absorbed through the skin. Once it reaches the bloodstream, it affects the bone marrow, and can cause leukemia, particularly AML. Benzene has also been linked to Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), lymphomas and Aplastic Anemia.
Besides printers, other industries that have a high risk of benzene exposure are mechanics, petroleum industry, steel workers, pipefitters, railroad workers and carpet cleaners.