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Legal Watch: Volume 6
Prepared by William H. BodeCase Summary: Eric Parker was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) in 1998. He sued Mobil Oil, Island Transportation Corp., and Getty Petroleum alleging that he contacted AML as result of his 17-year occupational exposure to gasoline containing benzene. Parker claimed that while employed with the named oil companies he inhaled gasoline vapors and had dermal contact with gasoline containing benzene on almost a daily basis. Prior to trial, the defendants asked the Court to exclude any testimony from plaintiff's experts that the exposure to benzene caused Parker's leukemia. The defendants argued that the plaintiff's experts - Drs. Philip Landrigan and Bernard Goldstein - could not provide scientifically reliable testimony. Defendants asserted that scientifically reliable testimony on medical causation entailed a three step process: (1) a determination of the level of exposure, or dose of the toxin; (2) a statement of the level of exposure that may cause illness, based on scientific literature; and (3) the exclusion of other possible causes of the illness. Specifically, Mobil and the other defendants argued that the experts failed to state the dosage of benzene to which Parker was exposed. The Court agreed and held that statements from plaintiff Parker's experts that he had "abundant opportunity for exposure to benzene" and similar statements failed to state a dosage level in the parts per million quantification required to form reliable scientific conclusions. With no evidence on medical causation, the suit was dismissed.
Bode & Grenier, LLP
1150 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
Telephone: 202-862-4300 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WORKER FAILED TO SHOW THAT OCCUPATIONAL EXPOSURE TO GASOLINE CAUSED LEUKEMIA, NEW YORK APPEALS COURT RULES
LESSON: Terminal operators handling gasoline or other liquids containing toxins should ensure that the workplace is well ventilated. Recent Supreme Court decisions meant to block juries from hearing "junk science" require that experts rigorously adhere to accepted scientific methodology when making opinions about causation. A well ventilated work place (and procedures to avoid excessive dermal contact with possible toxins) can protect against lawsuits by workers claiming damages as a result of occupational exposure to toxins. (Eric Parker v. Mobil Oil Corporation, Island Transportation Company, and Getty Petroleum Marketing, Inc.)
PEPSI-COLA'S PRICE STRUCTURE TO MARKETER DID NOT VIOLATE ANTITRUST LAWS
LESSON: Price discrimination law suits are disfavored by the Courts, and extremely difficult to prove. No plaintiff has successfully prosecuted a Robinson-Patman antitrust suit in the last ten years. Any company believing it is the victim of price discrimination must carefully review the facts and law with knowledgeable counsel before initiating a law suit. (Krist Oil Co., Inc. v. Bernick's Pepsi-Cola of Duluth)
TERMINALS/SERVICE STATIONS MUST ADEQUATELY COMMUNICATE WARNINGS
LESSON: A terminal that permits users to fill small containers with gasoline at the rack, or that operates service stations, should make sure that warning signs have a separate heading for containers. The warning signs should be prominently displayed. Under that heading, the requisite warnings should be listed. The warnings should include language that: (a) Portable containers must be placed on the ground prior to filling; (b) filling unapproved portable containers is unlawful and dangerous; (c) the container must close securely; (d) the container must feature a spout so that the contents can be poured without spilling; and (e) the container must be properly labeled. (Camden Oil Company, LLC v. Jackson et al.)
Please address any comments or questions to Mr. Bode at 202-862-4300 or email@example.com.
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