Offshore worker sues after developing lymphoma from alleged exposure to benzene

By Michelle Keahey | Dec 22, 2013

NEW ORLEANS - An offshore worker has filed a lawsuit claiming he developed lymphoma after years of exposure to crude oil and toxic substances containing benzene.

Billy Johnson filed suit against Rowan Companies Inc. f/k/a Rowan Drilling Co. Inc. on Dec. 20 in federal court in New Orleans.

Johnson worked for Rowan on its Jack up type rigs on offshore locations in the Gulf of Mexico from approximately 1981 to 2001. During his employment, he was exposed to crude oil, diesel fuel, leaks, well fluids, and natural gas.  According to the lawsuit, he was also exposed to significant quantities of dangerous and toxic substances containing benzene. He claims as a result of the exposure he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in October 2011.

The defendant is accused of unseaworthiness and negligence for failing to provide respiratory protection, or other personal protective equipment, failing to provide training to instruct its employee in the proper safety procedures, failing to have the necessary equipment to performed the required work, failing to provide respirators, failing to have properly trained and competent master and crew, and for failing to properly secure their respective vessels and provide a safe place to work.

The defendant is further accused of failing to properly inspect and maintain their respective vessels, failing to comply with applicable regulations and law concerning air quality and environmental standards, failing to conduct adequate industrial hygiene monitoring, and for failing to conduct adequate engineering controls to protect workers.

The plaintiff is seeking an award of damages for medical expenses, physical therapy, loss of insurability, physical pain and suffering, disability, emotional and psychological anguish and distress, loss of enjoyment of life, maintenance and cure, punitive damages, interest, court costs, and attorney’s fees.

Johnson is represented by L. Eric Williams Jr. of Williams Law Office in Metairie. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Jay C. Zainey is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:13-cv-06749

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