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ArcelorMittal faces lawsuit in Warren worker's cancer death

The lawsuit claims the company “knowingly and/or deliberately misrepresented the hazards” of the cancer-causing substances to which the welder was exposed, and that he wasn't provided the proper protective equipment or training for the work.
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WARREN — Those overseeing the estate of a deceased ArcelorMittal Warren worker are suing the company for the unsafe conditions they say caused him to develop cancer and die in 2016.

Brent Elliot Stocker worked as a welder inside storage tanks at the company’s Warren plant along Main Avenue Southwest, which manufactures coke for the company’s Cleveland operation, according to a lawsuit filed last week in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

Though those tanks contained carcinogenic chemicals such as benzene, the lawsuit claims the company “knowingly and/or deliberately misrepresented the hazards” of those substances. It also claims the company didn’t provide Stocker with personal protective equipment, nor did it properly instruct him how to work safely in the tanks or regularly assess job hazards at the plant.

“The tasks [Stocker] was instructed to perform and/or the substances to which [Stocker] was exposed violated federal, state, and/or industry codes, regulations, rules or standards,” the suit reads.

Stocker developed multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, and died Dec. 28, 2016, according to a similar suit filed against ArcelorMittal by Stocker’s estate in 2018.

That suit was dismissed in February 2020 without prejudice, meaning the plaintiffs would be able to refile the claims.

The recent suit names ArcelorMittal USA as well as an unidentified person believed to be Stocker’s supervisor as defendants and brings claims of negligence and wrongful death, among others. It seeks an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages.

Attorney Brian Stevens of North Canton, who is representing Stocker’s estate, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Though county court records show ArcelorMittal has been served in the case, they do not list an attorney for the company.

ArcelorMittal USA and its subsidiaries, including the long-standing Warren coke plant, were sold in December to Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., a Cleveland-based steel producer.

An ArcelorMittal spokesperson on Wednesday said the acquisition included the company’s litigation and declined to comment on the Trumbull County case.

That spokesperson deferred to a Cleveland-Cliffs representative, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration records show 35 reports containing violations for ArcelorMittal USA sites in five states were filed in the past five years, including eight reports from Ohio facilities.

Justin Dennis

About the Author: Justin Dennis

Justin Dennis has been on the beat since 2011, covering crime, courts and public education. Dennis grew up in Poland and Salem and studied journalism and communications at Cleveland State University and University of Pittsburgh.
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