Seaman sues employer claiming 18 years of benzene exposure caused blood disorder

Michelle Keahey Apr. 16, 2012, 6:58am

NEW ORLEANS - A seaman claims his diagnosis of aplastic anemia is a result of 18 years of benzene exposure.

Stephen Scott filed suit against Cenac Towing Co., Settoon Towing, ABC Insurance Co. and XYZ Insurance Co. on March 27 in federal court in New Orleans.

Scott claims he was exposed to benzene and benzene-containing chemicals while working on various marine vessels. In October 2011, he was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a blood disorder.

According to the lawsuit, Scott worked as a seaman from 1993 to 2000 on vessels owned and maintained by Cenac. From 2000 to 2011, Scott worked on Settoon's vessels. His job duties included unloading and loading barges that contained from 6,000 to 30,000 barrels of liquid.

He claims he was exposed to benzene-containing chemicals and solvents, including gasoline, diesel and crude oil.

Scott states that he was not provided respiratory protection, gloves or chemical suits, which may have prevented the exposure.

Settoon and Cenac are accused of negligence for failing to provide a safe place to work, For permitting the vessel to be saturated with benzene contaminated air, for failing to warn of the unsafe conditions and health risks associated with benzene exposure, and failing to eliminate, minimize or reduce benzene exposure levels.

The defendants are accused of negligence for failing to have the necessary equipment or personnel to perform the required work, failing to have working condition equipment, failing to have a properly trained and competent master and crew, not complying with applicable regulations and law concerning air quality and environmental standards, and failing to adequately supervise and train Scott and other workers.

The plaintiff is asking for an award of damages for medical expenses, vocational rehabilitation, loss of employability, loss of compensation, wages and benefits, impairment to future earning capacity, loss of insurability, physical pain and suffering, disability, emotional and psychological abuse and distress, loss of enjoyment of life, punitive damages, interest, attorney's fees, and court costs.

Scott is represented by L. Eric Williams of Williams Law Office in Metairie and Richard J. Fernandez and Amber E. Cisney of Law Offices of Richard J. Fernandez in Metairie.

Case No. 2:12-cv-00811

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