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In Memory of Dan Ross (1944 to 1990)


EWG's Chemical Industry Archives are dedicated to the memory of Dan Ross and to the spirit and determination of his wife, Elaine Ross, who has done everything in her power to prevent others from suffering and dying as Dan did in 1990, at the age of 46.

Dan was a husband and father who worked for decades at Conoco Chemical and Condea Vista in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Towards the end of his life he developed the brain cancer that would kill him after a long and extremely painful illness. He and Elaine were convinced the cancer was caused by his exposure to vinyl chloride at Conoco. Company officials had always told him workplace exposures were part of the job. After his death, Elaine sought information from Vista about Dan's exposure and illness, but when her inquiries were frustrated she turned to local attorney William Baggett, Jr.

Baggett sued Conoco on her behalf for the wrongful death of her husband (Ross v. Conoco). It was in the discovery phase of the case that Baggett obtained hundreds of thousands of pages of internal industry correspondence, studies and meeting minutes, not just from Conoco and Vista, but from dozens of other chemical companies and their trade associations, including the American Chemistry Council (formerly the Chemical Manufacturer's Association). Just prior to settlement with Conoco (now Vista) on the wrongful death count of the Ross case, Elaine Ross gave Baggett approval to file separate conspiracy complaints against the companies and trade associations, alleging they conspired to withhold crucial information about the dangers of vinyl chloride from workers, government regulators and the public. A similar conspiracy count has been included in vinyl chloride cases Baggett has subsequently brought in Louisiana, Ohio and Delaware. Three of the four conspiracy counts have survived motions for dismissal by summary judgment filed by chemical company attorneys. A summary judgement motion is still pending in one of the Ohio cases. These cases are still being adjudicated.

The documents obtained in Ross v. Conoco comprise most of the initial holdings of the Chemical Industry Archives. The Environmental Working Group will expand the archives as we receive more internal industry documents made public through legal proceedings, and obtain from government sources documents that rarely see the public light. Mrs. Ross has told us and others that the overriding goal of her legal action was to ensure that the chemical industry never forgets Dan Ross' name, his story, or its profound lessons. EWG respectfully dedicates the Archives to that same goal.



last updated: march.27.2009

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The Chemical Industry Archives is a project of the Environmental Working Group.
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