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Mobil Oil Corporation v. Ellender
Supreme Court of Texas
968 S.W. 2d 917 (1998)
Eli Ellender died from leukemia due to his exposure to benzene while working at a plant owned by Mobil Oil Corporation (Mobil) (defendant). Eli worked for 14 years as an independent contractor for Mobil. Anna Mae Ellender (plaintiff), as representative of Eli’s estate, filed suit against Mobil and others. Ellender alleged that Mobil was negligent and grossly negligent in failing to: (1) warn Eli about his exposure to benzene and the risks associated with the chemical and (2) protect Eli from those risks. Prior to trial, all defendants other than Mobil agreed to a settlement. At trial, evidence and testimony showed that Mobil not only knew the dangerous risks associated with Eli’s continued exposure to benzene, but Mobil actually had an unwritten policy of not monitoring contract workers’ contact with benzene. Mobil permitted Eli and others to work around benzene without gloves and even provided benzene to workers to wash their hands. The jury found Mobil grossly negligent and awarded over $622,000 in compensatory and $6 million in punitive damages. Mobil appealed. The court of appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court. The Supreme Court of Texas granted certiorari to review.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Baker, J.)
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