Brown & Root employee claims cancer diagnosis related to benzene exposure

Michelle Keahey Apr. 15, 2012, 4:00am

NEW ORLEANS - A former Brown and Root employee has filed a personal injury lawsuit that claims his repeated exposure to benzene and other chemicals has caused him to develop cancer.

Chris and Catherine Cologne filed suit against Shell Oil Co., Highlands Ins. Co., Travelers Ins. Co., American Motorist Ins. Co., Onebeacon Ins. Co. and Texaco Inc. on March 16 in federal court in New Orleans.

Chris Cologne claims that exposure to benzene, welding fumes, radiation and paint fumes during his employment with Brown and Root, Avondale Inc., and Texaco, caused him to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

During his employment with Brown and Root from 1961 to 1963, Cologne was allegedly exposed to benzene, welding fumes and radiation while he was performing work for Shell Oil Co. at their oil and gas fields and facilities.

He was employed with Avondale as a welder from 1963 to 1970 and was allegedly exposed to welding fumes and paint fumes. From 1970 to 1976, Cologne was employed by Texaco and his job duties included repairing leaking equipment and flowlines for crude oil.

He states that during this time he was exposed to radiation in the form of technologically enhanced radioactive material, benzene, x-rays, welding fumes, crude oil and benzene-containing substances.

The combined and repeated exposure resulted in Cologne developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the complaint states.

The defendants are accused of failing to inform him of the health risks associated with his exposure.

Further, the defendants are accused of negligence by not providing or requiring its employees to wear the proper respiratory protective equipment, failing to monitor workers who were exposed, for failing to comply with laws and regulations concerning worker exposure, failing to implement a proper safety program, and for failing to train employees.

The former employee also accuses the defendants of concealment, misrepresentation and fraud.

Cologne is seeking damages for physical pain, suffering, functional disability and impairment, emotional pain, anguish, suffering, aggravated mental and emotional deficiency, medical expenses, loss of wages, diminution of earning capacity, loss of insurability, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, court costs, and interest.

The plaintiffs are represented by of L. Eric Williams Jr. of Williams Law Office in Metairie and Richard J. Fernandez and Amber E. Cisney of the Law Offices of Richard J. Fernandez in Metairie. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:12-cv-00735

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