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November 15, 2023

Stamford jury sides with ExxonMobil in product liability case involving benzene exposure


A jury in Stamford Superior Court ruled unanimously in favor of Texas-based ExxonMobil in a lawsuit brought by a widow who sought more than $40 million for her late husband’s injuries and eventual death. 

The plaintiff, Kiriaki Yoranidis, brought the suit under the Connecticut Product Liability Act, on behalf of herself and her late husband, Nicholas Yoranidis, who owned an ExxonMobil gas station for decades. The complaint alleged that her husband’s condition stemmed from his exposure to benzene at work.

According to the suit, Nicholas Yoranidis’s exposure to the carcinogen benzene, through ExxonMobil products such as Liquid Wrench, caused him to contract acute myeloid leukemia. After suffering numerous complications from the illness, he died on Jan. 12, 2018.

The suit alleged that ExxonMobil was liable for defective product design and failure to warn about product hazards.

The jury’s verdict came on Nov. 8, after a nine-day trial.

The jury determined the plaintiff failed to prove that the products were defective or that they caused Nicholas Yoranidis’ condition. 

However, the Department of Health and Human Services has long classified benzene as a known human carcinogen for all routes of exposure. Benzene comes from emissions from burning coal and oil, gasoline service stations and motor vehicle exhaust. 

ExxonMobil was represented at trial by Ty Buthod of Baker Botts, a New York City-based firm, and Jennifer Morgan, Lorey Rives Leddy and Daniel Krisch of Murtha Cullina, which has offices in Connecticut, including downtown Hartford, along with Massachsueets and Rhode Island.

The plaintiff’s attorneys, Jacqueline E. Fusco and Brendon P. Leydon of Stamford-based Wocl Leydon, did not immediately respond to a request for comment

Read the complaint below: 

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