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Benzene defendants seek removal to federal court

| May 16, 2012 | Personal Injury |

Last month, we wrote about the lawsuit that had been filed by the city of Roxana, Illinois against several companies. Now, two of the defendant companies have filed a motion to have the case removed from Madison County to federal court, describing the case as an “environmental action” that necessitates a federal case.

In the personal injury lawsuit, Roxana states that Shell Oil Co., Equilon Enterprises and their predecessor companies have operated an oil refinery in the town since 1918. That refinery began to leak in the 1980s, causing contamination of land and water and exposing the residents of Roxana, which is about 20 mile north of St. Louis, to toxic benzene and other carcinogenic compounds.

In an example of the rampant benzene contamination, the city provided the results of a soil vapor test conducted by the Public Works Yard. That test showed benzene levels of more than 14,000 times the legal limit. In addition, benzene has been found in surface waters near the Roxana Water Treatment Facility.

As a result, the suit argues, the town has lost residents and tax revenues, and the health of the remaining residents has been seriously compromised. Long-term exposure to benzene has been proven to result in leukemia and other cancers. The town is seeking damages for public and private nuisance, unjust enrichment and trespass.

However, Shell and Equilon recently sought removal of the case to federal court, stating that the move was appropriate because the case concerns citizens of multiple states and because the city has requested more than $75,000 in damages.

Source: Madison Record, “Shell, Equilon file for removal of benzene case to federal court,” Christina Stueve, May 10, 2012

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