Wife of deceased mechanic sues over husband's benzene exposure

By Michelle Keahey | Feb 7, 2012

NEW ORLEANS - The wife of a deceased mechanic has filed a lawsuit against his former employer for not providing proper respiratory equipment to protect her husband against the health hazards associated with benzene exposure.

Audrey Millet, individually and as the legal representative of Robert C. Millet filed suit against Employers Insurance Co. of Wausau, Hartford Fire Insurance Co., Fireman's Fund Insurance Co., Radiator Special Company and United States Steel Corp. on Jan. 26 in federal court in New Orleans.

Robert C. Millet worked at Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp. in the company's fluorocarbon unit, chlorine unit and coke unit from 1973 to 1978.

According to the lawsuit, Millet was exposed to large amounts of benzene at the coke calcining units, as benzene was used to de-dust the units. Millet was also exposed to benzene in Liquid Wrench while performing mechanic work.

He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in April 2011 and died from the illness in May 2011.

The defendants are accused of negligence and strict product liability by not requiring Millet to wear the proper respiratory protective equipment, failing to make available proper respiratory protective equipment, failing to warn of the health hazards involved with benzene, failing to implement proper engineering controls regarding ventilation and a proper safety program, by not requiring or providing protective clothing for dermal exposure, and for failing to monitor or evaluate the fume levels in the work environment to ensure Millet was not exposed to dangerous levels of benzene.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for her husband's physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, disfigurement, embarrassment, physical impairment, loss of earnings, lost earning capacity, physical impairment, physical and mental disability, medical expenses, loss of enjoyment of life, fear of cancer, and other diseases, training expenses, wrongful death damages, survival damages, court costs and interest.

Millet is represented by L. Eric Williams Jr. of Williams Law Office in Metairie and Richard J. Fernandez and Amber E. Cisney of Richard J. Fernandez, LLC in Metairie.

U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:12-cv-00260

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