Benzene Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Printing, Packing Companies

The wife of a former press operator has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Safety Kleen, Inc. and a number of other companies, alleging that her husband was exposed to dangerous levels of benzene for years without being provided proper protection or warning about the potential health risks. 

The benzene exposure lawsuit was filed by Patricia Kelsey in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on May 27, on behalf of herself and the estate of her husband, Lawrence Kelsey. The lawsuit only identifies Safety-Kleen as a defendant by name, but also notes that there are more than two dozen possible defendants.

According to the complaint (PDF), Kelsey worked as an ink mixer and printer for more than 20 years at a number of plants. The Kentucky man worked for a number of printing and packaging companies from 1988 to 2013, when he was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome. During that time he worked with Safety-Kleen solvent, benzene, toluene and other toxic chemicals without being provided with a face mask or other respiratory protective gear.

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Kelsey underwent a bone marrow transplant in July 2013 and died on May 28, 2014 due to complications.

The lawsuit claims that Kelsey was exposed to products that were unreasonably dangerous and therefore defective. The lawsuit also states that the defendants failed to warn Kelsey of the risks, even though they knew exposure to benzene and other solvents and chemicals could be harmful.

Benzene is an industrial chemical that has been associated with the development of several fatal forms of cancer, leukemia and other conditions, such as Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML), Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), Hairy Cell Leukemia (HCL), Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Multiple Myeloma, Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDL), Myelofibrosis and Myeloid Metaplasia, Aplastic Anemia and Thrombocytopenic Purpura.

Myelodysplastic Syndrome, sometimes referred to as preleukemia, is a bone marrow disease that often causes severe anemia and low blood counts due to bone marrow failure. It often precedes the development acute myelogenous leukemia.

The benzene wrongful death lawsuit accuses Safety Kleen and the other defendants of designing and marketing defective products, negligence, and wrongful death. Kelsey seeks compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of her husband, herself, and their three children.


  • RandyAugust 24, 2020 at 9:19 am

    I have been a printing press operator for 40 years and now Im stage 4 renal cell carcinoma, it's kidney cancer they took one kidney and it spread to my lungs. I have been breathing at least 5 different kinds of chemicals everyday and wondering if these chemicals has anything to do with my cancer since they say it will cause kidney cancer.

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