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Philadelphia jury hits Exxon with $725.5 million verdict on mechanic’s claim that he got cancer from benzene exposure

A jury in Philadelphia found Exxon Mobil Corp. liable for $725.5 million in damages due a former mechanic who claimed its petroleum products exposed him to benzene that caused his cancer, according to his lawyers.

The jury found that the oil company failed to warn Paul Gill of the risk of benzene in its products, including gasoline and solvents, while he worked as a Mobil service station mechanic from 1975 to 1980, his attorneys said in a statement Friday.

Gill’s lawyer Patrick Wigle called the verdict “important” and said Exxon has “resisted warning the public and taking basic precautions” to limit exposure to benzene. “We’re grateful that this jury listened closely to the testimony and decided it’s time to hold corporations like Exxon accountable for placing profits over people,” Wigle said in the statement. 

Exxon shares fell as much as 0.7% on Friday, in line with the broad energy sector as oil prices retreated. They were down 0.3% at $118.08 at 3:28 p.m. in New York.

Exxon called the verdict “irrational” and said it would ask the court to reverse it before it becomes final. 

Beyond that request, we plan to exhaust all available appeals and are confident an appellate court will see the verdict for what it is,” the company said in a statement. “We are reviewing our next steps.”

The verdict was reported earlier by Reuters.

The case is Paul Gill and Diane Gill v. ExxonMobil, 200501803, First Judicial District of Pennsylvania.

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