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Boettcher v. Conoco Phillips Co.

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20018
Nos. 17-6115, (10th Cir., 02/12/2018)

The Tenth Circuit ruled that an Oklahoma citizen has no claim against an oil company on allegations that his cancer was caused by decades of breathing benzene fumes from its oil refinery near his home. In 2011, the man was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. In 2016, he brought suit against the oil company, claiming exposure to benzene from its refinery between 1944 and 1962 caused him to later develop cancer. A district court dismissed the case, finding that his claims were untimely because they failed to plead sufficient facts to support application of the discovery rule. State law set the statute of limitations for negligence and strict liability claims at two years. On appeal, the man argued that he did not discover the underlying cause until 2015. The appellate court disagreed, holding that the facts of the case show no exercise of diligence on the part of the citizen to discover the underlying cause prior to 2015. The case was dismissed.