26 companies sued over float-sink chemicals

By Harmon Marks | Sep 2, 2010

MADISON -- Plaintiffs are suing 26 employers, manufacturers and distributors for personal injuries they say were caused by exposure to toxic chemicals used in float-sink coal laboratories and related facilities.

Ten men complain manufacturers and distributors did not adequately warn them "of the adverse health effects and risk of harm from exposure to the (floatsink) chemicals and/or about the need for personal protective clothing and safety equipment ..." doing their jobs.

Employers among defendants, the suit contends, "failed to provide adequate and protected work environments and ventilation ... adequate personal protective clothing and equipment ..." and gave no warning about adverse health effects.

Plaintiffs' lab jobs, according to the complaint, exposed them to a number of harmful chemicals that collectively are used in float-sink procedures. "PCE," described as the chemical predominantly used in float-sink labs, is part of the family "generally referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOCs)," the complaint says.

The coal industry utilizes float-sink labs to test the specific gravity of coal, which assesses quality and washability.

Plaintiffs want a jury trial before Judge William S. Thomson to determine compensatory and punitive damages, jointly and severally; recovery of costs for medical screening and future medical monitoring, litigation costs, pre- and post-judgment interest, plus such relief determined just and proper by the court.

Attorney Thomas F. Basile filed the suits Aug. 9 in Boone Circuit Court on behalf of John M. Bias, Joseph R. Blevins, Gene A. Bowen, John Chandler, Westley Fraley, Michael Gallaher, Rondal Gillespie Jr.; Fred V. Harless, Carlos G. Jarvis Jr. and Dennis A. Miller.

Defendants named are Arkema, Inc.; Belmont Laboratories, Commercial Testing & Engineering Co., Diamond Shamrock Chemicals Co., Dow Chemical Co., Eastern Associated Coal, LLC; Gulf States Energy, Inc.; ICL-IP America, Inc.; INEOS CHLOR America Inc., Interstate Chemical Co., Inc.; JSC Kaustik, Magic Chemicals, Inc.; Mid-State Chemical & Supply Corp., Miljac, Inc.; Occidental Chemical Corp., Oltchim, S.A.; Peabody Holding Co., Inc.; PPG Industries, Preiser Scientific, Inc.; Primachem, Inc.; PVS Chemicals, Inc.; Solvay Chemicals International SA, Univar USA, Inc.; US Chemicals, Inc., aka US Chemicals, LLC; Legacy Vulcan Corp., and Westmoreland Coal Co.

Boone Circuit Court case numbers: 10-C-184 through 10-C-192

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