Cause No. A5666869: Lewis, et al. v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, LP
District Court, Clark County Nevada, Dept. 27, Honorable Nancy Allf
Rick Lewis worked as a gasoline tanker-truck driver in California and Nevada starting in 1995. From 2002-2008, he loaded gasoline at the Kinder Morgan terminal in Las Vegas between 1-7 times per day and delivered the fuel to various retail outlets. Gasoline contains up to 3% benzene. Kinder Morgan operates various pipelines and approximately 180 bulk terminals nationwide. Plaintiffs alleged that Mr. Lewis’s repeated exposures to benzene in gasoline at the Kinder Morgan terminal caused him to develop Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS).
Plaintiffs’ legal theories against Kinder Morgan were based on negligence/premises liability, negligence/failure to warn, and strict products liability. The jury found that Kinder Morgan was negligent and also liable as a distributor.
Plaintiffs argued that Rick Lewis’s DNA showed specific chromosomal damage linked in the scientific literature with exposure to benzene. Plaintiffs argued that Kinder Morgan failed to monitor its premises for benzene exposure and disregarded normal industrial hygiene practices, and failed to provide warnings to Mr. Lewis or other invitees of the dangers of benzene exposure from gasoline through normal bulk loading operations at its terminal.
Kinder Morgan argued that gasoline is not a carcinogen, and asserted that benzene exposures were not a hazard at its Las Vegas terminal, or other locations. Kinder Morgan also claimed that it was not a ‘distributor’ of benzene-containing gasoline, but a storage facility instead. Kinder Morgan also argued that the cause of Mr. Lewis’s MDS was unknown.
Prior to trial, confidential settlements were reached between Plaintiffs and several gasoline refiners. Kinder Morgan’s offer prior to trial was $20,000.
Plaintiffs are represented by Justin Shrader, Keith Patton, and Robert Shuttlesworth of Shrader & Associates, LLP in Houston.