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Benzene, Silica and Other Chemicals

Walsworth is a recognized leader in the defense of claims that involve allegations of exposure to benzene, silica and other chemicals. Since our founding, we have represented clients in hundreds of these scientifically intensive, medically advanced and uniquely complicated matters, including cases that involve allegations of exposure to chemicals ranging from diacetyl and other food flavorings to formaldehyde. Our lawyers combine an extensive understanding of the legal and scientific issues with their in-depth knowledge of the industry to successfully defend clients in their most challenging cases. Our clients include manufacturers and distributors in the following industries:

  • Paints and Coatings
  • Chemicals and Solvents
  • Food Flavorings
  • Automobile Products
  • Cosmetics
  • Hair Care Products
  • Raw Metals and Steel
  • Herbicides, Pesticides and Fertilizers
  • Printing Products

Benzene, silica and other chemicals litigation often involves complex multi-party, multi-jurisdictional matters. When a case involves multiple parties, our lawyers take into consideration the individual needs and perspectives of each client while achieving the cost-sharing efficiencies and other benefits associated with multi-party litigation.

The lawyers in our toxic tort practice are also familiar with the illnesses and diseases that may be connected to different chemical exposures. We understand the relevant scientific, toxicological and epidemiological literature and keep abreast of the changes in said literature. When necessary, our lawyers also have the ability to call upon preeminent scientific and medical experts to help prepare and support our clients’ defenses.

In every matter, we launch an early investigation to fully evaluate our clients’ potential liability. We work to identify early exit strategies that allow our clients to avoid unnecessary fees and costs associated with prolonged litigation. Although we are able to secure a dismissal or settle on favorable terms prior to trial in many of the cases we handle, our lawyers are fully prepared to litigate our clients’ cases at every stage of the legal process.

Representative Successes

  • Gutierres v. Balch Petroleum, et al. – Obtained a defense verdict for a general engineering contractor after a 5-week jury trial involving claims of exposure to carbon monoxide and other exhaust fumes.
  • Lopez v. Volk – Successfully resolved a difficult lead exposure case involving eight children claiming exposure to excessive amounts of lead in an apartment complex.
  • Lewis v. 21st Century Fox Film Corporation – Summary judgment granted in favor of a supplier of crystalline silica dust products based on lack of causation. The plaintiff claimed lung injury as a result of inhalation of the product used to create dust effects in a Planet of the Apes battle scene while working on the movie set.
  • Lee v. ITW Food Equipment Group LLC – Summary judgment granted in favor of a refrigeration equipment maintenance company based on no duty of care. Multiple plaintiffs claimed personal injuries as a result of prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide in the workplace.
  • Cervantes v. Bortz Products, Inc., et al. – Obtained a dismissal on behalf of a chemical manufacturer and distributor in a personal injury case involving alleged exposure to products containing benzene or benzene derivatives after meeting and conferring with plaintiff’s counsel regarding the client’s anticipated motion for summary judgment based on the statute of limitations.
  • Johnson v. American Standard, Inc. – The California Supreme Court affirmed summary judgment granted in Los Angeles Superior Court for defendants, establishing the sophisticated user defense, which exempts manufacturers/suppliers from having to warn “sophisticated users” in negligence and strict product liability actions. Plaintiff was a HVAC technician who serviced commercial A/C systems at a number of financial institutional branches in Southern California.
  • Maxton v. Precision Specialty Metals, Inc., et al. – Demurrer granted without leave to amend based on the application of the Component Parts Doctrine to a manufacturer of metals that were incorporated into products manufactured by the plaintiff’s employer. The ruling was ultimately upheld on appeal.
  • Proctor v. Ventura Gateway, LLC, et al. – Summary judgment granted in favor of the owner of a large commercial retail center. Multi-plaintiff claims were based on alleged toxic exposure to raw sewage and hydrogen sulfide.
  • Rangel and Shell v. K.R. Anderson – Obtained the dismissal of a product distributor in multiple toxic chemical exposure wrongful death actions.
  • Purdom v. The Adhesive Products, Inc., et al. – Successfully represented a manufacturer of benzene-containing products in a matter in which four plaintiffs alleged exposure to our client’s products through their employment and use of adhesive sprays. As a result of aggressively defending our client at mediation as well as preparing a motion for summary judgment, we obtained a favorable settlement as to all plaintiffs.
  • Johnson v. Armored Autogroup, Inc., et al. – Summary judgment granted in favor of a global manufacturer and marketer of automotive products. Plaintiff claimed that exposure to benzene in the client’s products caused his Leukemia and that he was entitled to punitive damages due to defendants’ alleged malicious and reckless failure to warn.