Summary judgment in wrongful death case obtained by Ed Siegert and affirmed by Appellate Court

The Appellate Court of Illinois, Third District, affirmed the summary judgment obtained by Ed Siegert in favor of a gasoline distributor in a wrongful death case arising out of alleged exposure to benzene in gasoline. Plaintiff alleged that her late husband died as a result of illness brought on by exposure to benzene in gasoline while he worked as a service station attendant for approximately 27 years. Ed represented a company which allegedly distributed gasoline to the service station during the years in question. The trial court granted dismissal of the strict liability counts alleged against the distributor pursuant to a motion brought under Section 2-621 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, commonly referred to as the Distributor Statute. The trial court thereafter granted summary judgment in favor of the distributor on a remaining negligent failure to warn claim as plaintiff failed to establish the distributor possessed superior knowledge of the allegedly dangerous nature of benzene in gasoline at the time the decedent was exposed to that hazard. In order to survive summary judgment on this issue, Plaintiff needed to provide some evidence to establish that the distributor knew that exposure to benzene could cause the cancer which allegedly harmed decedent, and possessed of that knowledge, knew or should have known that harm might or could occur if no warning was given. Plaintiff failed to meet that burden. The Appellate Court affirmed judgment in favor of the distributor on both the strict liability and negligence counts. Schaefer vs. Texor Petroleum CompanyInc., Appellate Court of Illinois, Third Dist., No. 3-09-0980 (July 27, 2010).