Toxic Torts

Overview

“Recognized for its strengths in product liability and environmental litigation…A go-to practice for class action defense work.”

Chambers USA

Blank Rome defends toxic tort claims nationwide for the oil, petrochemical, aerospace, manufacturing, and agricultural chemical industries.  

The common element of these claims is that plaintiffs allege injurious exposure to chemicals.  The disease endpoints include cancer, birth defects, and major organ disease (such as lung, brain and central nervous system, kidney, and liver).  Such exposure may arise from a workplace, environmental contamination, or a consumer product (e.g., leukemia claims from exposure to gasoline). Our own understanding of the science, medicine, and regulations on which these cases turn permits us to communicate effectively with clients in the language of their business and industry. 

We also advise clients on preventative measures, including potential criminal and administrative liabilities, the avoidance of civil litigation, the adequacy of product warnings, presentations of documentation for regulatory consideration, and comments on agency policies and rules.

Experience

  • Serve as lead counsel to chemical manufacturer in class action and related claims filed as a result of release of chemical by third-party customer of manufacturer into the Elk River and resulting “Do Not Use” order which put 200,000 plus residents and businesses out of water for up to ten days and generated claims of property damage and personal injury. Settlement terms have been reached but not yet approved by federal court.  
  • Acted as lead counsel to major oil company in claim that plaintiffs’ deceased who was a long-time service station operator developed acute myeloid leukemia from exposure to benzene in gasoline. Louisiana federal judge excluded plaintiffs’ experts on exposure and medical causation after two day Daubert hearing and granted summary judgment dismissing case. Judgment was affirmed by Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Served as trial counsel to major oil and chemical companies in multiple lawsuits in Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida and Louisiana in which plaintiffs claim that exposure to benzene, benzene-containing products and/or butadiene caused leukemia, lymphoma or myelodysplastic syndrome. Over 30 years of trials in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi.
  • Obtained outright dismissal on behalf of corporate owners of multi-unit residential apartment building in personal injury case in Baltimore, Maryland alleging that minor child was exposed to lead paint over several years.
  • Counsel corporate clients on regulatory compliance with lead paint abatement and risk assessment from residential and occupational exposure to lead in Philadelphia.
  • Defended commercial clients in connection with personal injury lawsuits from alleged exposure to lead paint in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Represented a global chemical manufacturer in national multidistrict litigation relating to alleged contamination of groundwater in numerous states, cities, and U.S. territories.
  • Serve as lead counsel to a major chemical distributor in two week Beaumont, Texas jury trial of benzene-acute myelogenous leukemia wrongful death suit that resulted in defense jury verdict.
  • Won summary judgment in New Mexico gasoline-benzene myelodysplastic syndrome case based on the exclusion of plaintiffs’ experts under New Mexico’s scientific evidence standards. Appellate co-counsel in plaintiffs’ appeal of summary judgment to New Mexico Court of Appeals resulting in opinion affirming exclusion and summary judgment.
  • Retained in individual and group defense of major petrochemical companies in numerous cases in Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania in which employees, contract workers or community residents claim to have developed blood, lymphatic system, brain or gastrointestinal tract cancers as a result of alleged exposure to benzene, butadiene and/or other aromatic or chlorinated hydrocarbons.
  • Act as national coordinating counsel by major, multi-national chemical distributor in benzene and solvent litigation filed throughout the United States.
  • Won summary judgment for multiple defendants in benzene-acute myelogenous leukemia case based on the Texas bulk supplier/sophisticated user doctrine. Also served as appellate counsel in plaintiffs’ appeal to Texas Court of Appeals resulting in opinion affirming summary judgment.
  • Won summary judgment in Texas federal court in gasoline-benzene acute myelogenous leukemia lawsuit based on the exclusion of plaintiffs’ experts under the United States Supreme Court’s Daubert analysis.
  • Won summary judgment in a gasoline-benzene lymphoma lawsuit in Dallas based on the exclusion of plaintiffs’ experts under the Texas Supreme Court’s Robinson analysis.
  • Served as co-counsel in gasoline-benzene acute myelogenous leukemia lawsuit based on the exclusion of plaintiffs’ experts under New York law (Frye standard). New York appellate courts reversed trial court’s refusal to exclude experts and granted summary judgment.
  • Served as national coordinating counsel for two Philadelphia industrial manufacturing companies (one mixer manufacturer and one gears manufacturer) in asbestos litigation.
  • Successfully defended a Pennsylvania-based, national industrial manufacturing company in a contractual-indemnification lawsuit concerning more than 20,000 asbestos claims filed in state court jurisdictions throughout the country.