CHARLESTON -- A Buffalo couple is suing Bayer Cropscience after they claim it did not provide a safe work environment.

Greenwood, Inc.; Bayer Corporation; Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Bayer Material Science, LLC; Bayer Cropscience Holding, Inc.; Bayer Cropscience, LLC; Danny Lester; Tim Carnefix; Kenny Stean; Francie Workman; Tony Dean; and Does 1 through 40 were also named as defendants in the suit.

On July 15, 2009, Ronial R. Blankenship Jr. was working at a job site when he inhaled something that had a very strong smell and burned his nose, lungs and throat, according to a complaint filed June 28 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Blankenship claims over the next few days, he began to develop pneumonia-like symptoms that would not go away, but he did not seek medical attention for a few days because he hoped the condition would improve.

On July 20, 2009, Blankenship began to experience a constant state of pneumonia in his lungs with worsening production of mucus and went to the infirmary for medical attention, according to the suit.

Blankenship claims by this time he had complained to both Carnefix and Lester, who "blew him off" and refused to involve Dean, who was the safety director.

The condition continued to worsen and by mid-October, Blankenship could no longer work and went to a physician, Dr. Curtis Pack, according to the suit.

Blankenship claims Pack referred him to a pulmonologist, where he was diagnosed with reactive airways dysfunction syndrome, which was caused by a single accidental inhalation of a high concentration of irritants.

The condition has decreased the function of Blankenship's lungs, which disables him from working as a pipe fitter, according to the suit.

Blankenship claims the defendants are responsible for his injuries and were negligent in requiring him to work in an unsafe work environment.

Blankenship and his wife, Michelle Blankenship, are seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre-judgment interest. They are being represented by J. Patrick L. Stephens and Mark F. Underwood.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Louis H. Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-1080

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