Woman blames Axiall for benzene exposure

By Kyla Asbury | Jan 6, 2015

MOUNDSVILLE – A woman is suing Axiall Corporation after she claims she was exposed to a harmful chemical during her employment.

MOUNDSVILLE – A woman is suing Axiall Corporation after she claims she was exposed to a harmful chemical during her employment.

Vicki L. Bowen was a member of the International Chemical Workers Council of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 45C for a number of years, according to a complaint filed Oct. 23 in Marshall Circuit Court.

Bowen claims she was employed by Axiall Corporation and its predecessor PPG from 1977 until June 2013 and was exposed to benzene during her employment.

"Bowen's exposure to benzene at the Marshall County facility was a proximate cause of her development of myelodysplastic syndrome ... diagnosed in January 2014," the complaint states.

As a direct and proximate result of Bowen's development of MDS, she has been severely injured, disabled and damaged, according to the suit.

Bowen claims a specific unsafe working condition existed in the workplace, which presented a high degree of risk and a strong probability of serious injury or death.

"Despite such actual knowledge [the defendants] violated, disregarded, circumvented and by-passed the applicable state and federal safety statutes, rules, regulations and standards, as well as commonly accepted and well-known safety standards ..." the complaint states.

The defendants failed to provide adequate respiratory and other forms of personal protection equipment and failed to provide adequate warnings of the hazards associated with exposure to benzene, benzene derivatives and/or benzene-containing products, according to the suit.

Bowen claims her livelihood was dependent upon the work she did for Axiall and its predecessor and was required to work near benzene.

Bowen's injury, illness and damages were directly and proximately caused by the negligence, carelessness, willfulness and recklessness of benzene suppliers, according to the suit.

The defendants failed to advise Bowen of the dangerous characteristics of benzene and failed to advise Bowen as to what, if any, would be reasonably safe and sufficient clothing, protective equipment and appliances to protect her from being poisoned as she was by the exposure to benzene, according to the suit.

Bowen is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. She is being represented by R. Dean Hartley, J. Michael Prascik and Jake R. Stout of Hartley & O'Brien PLLC.

ConcoPhillips Company, Chevron USA Inc., Union Oil Company of California, Citgo Petroleum Corp., Recochem Inc., BP Amoco Chemical Company, BP Products North America Inc., Sunoco Inc., United States Steel Corporation, Sistersville Tank Works Inc., F&B Steel Erectors, and RJ Feldmeier, Scott Pleskonko and Kenneth Walborn were also named as defendants in the suit.

The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Mark Karl.

Marshall Circuit Court case number: 14-C-173

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