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In 1984, Pryor and his four coplaintiffs settled with the chemical companies for three million dollars. Pryor’ wanted to go to trial but gave in when pressured by the other four plaintiffs, all widows in need of money. “I wanted a trial for the publicity. I wanted everybody to see what these companies were doing, “Pryor said. One plaintiff was the widow of a former Port Neches-Groves High School student who had never worked in a plant or refinery. “We wanted to prove that you could get leukemia from indirect exposure, from ambient air,” Pryor said. Suing across plant fences has since become more common in Port Arthur. The result of such litigation, according to Port Arthur attorney Jeff Branick, has been a safer work place. But Branick, who has toured most area plants insists that plants could save lives and lawsuits by better housekeeping. “It’s improved, Branick said, “but housekeeping conditions are still terrible.” And Pryor continues to encourage people to take their claims to court. Fifteen to twenty judgements or settlements can be attributed to his counseling, including $1 million awarded on April 3 to the children of Charles Sanders who died of leukemia in 1980. According to the Port Arthur News Sanders, a draftsman at Gulf States Utilities had been required to clean his tools and desk in benzene. Rosa Irene Sanders Zigler, his widow, had sought Pryor’s advice after her husband’s death. Bodie Pryor insists that he never wanted any of this, the notoriety, the litigation, the isolation. He knew in 1977 that he was violating a cultural imperative in a company town. Only union members, it is understood, sue their employers. Pryor no longer belongs to the Griffin Park Lions Club, “the best in the area,” he said. After the lawsuit he found himself increasingly isolated, “eating by myself, talking to myself, ’til I quit going.’ He rarely visits the plants where he spent some 40 years. And last year when Evelyn, his wife of 49 years died, half of the people at the funeral were Vietnamese. Pryor has gone to work as a volunteer in the city’s Vietnamese community where he found new friends and “an integrity that we seem to have lost.” Seated in a living room filled with family pictures Pryor repeats that he didn’t want any of this. “This is what it’s all come down to,” he said. On an end table, next to a card that reads: “You Don’t Know How Much We Love You Grandpa,” is a very presidential photograph of Pat Robertson. “I’m going to vote for this man,” Pryor says, “he’d make a good president.” Pryor is a member of the 700 Club, Robertson’s nationwide religious organization. He attributes most of what has happened to God’s will. All of the other leukemia victims are dead. One man died a day after he was diagnosed. Only Bodie Pryor, one person who was in a position to put together some of the pieces of the chemical puzzle has survived. 1:] Austin CURTIS ROY GOFORTH of CoManche was injured ten years ago when a car dropped from the top of a transport trailer and landed on him. Goforth, now 57, was inspecting a part of the trailer at the time of the accident. His body was crushed by the impact, which broke both of his ankles, his pelvis, and ten vertebrae in his back. Doctors told Goforth he would never walk again. But he walked to the witness seat in the chamber of the state Senate last month to tell the committee his views on legislation that would limit the legal rights of the injured in lawsuits against those responsible for their injuries. Goforth said he spent three years in a wheel chair and on crutches after the accident. “It seemed like I was going to lose everything I had. Two of my daughters had to drop out of school to help make a living. About the time it looked like everything was going to fall apart, a friend told me of an attorney. I called him and asked him to come to Jo Clifton is an Austin attorney and longtime Observer contributor. the hospital, which he did, and I signed a contract. “[The lawyer] helped me financially through the hospital ordeal and up to the settlement. I didn’t see anything of an insurance man . . . they didn’t call to see if me and my family were getting the treatment we needed. I’m here today to talk against tort reform. I don’t think they’d have nearly as many lawsuits as they do if they’d come out of the woodwork and talk to the people when they’re in trouble. “Pain and suffering, I’ve had oodles and gobs of it. I don’t see how anybody can put a cap on pain and suffering. . . . I came to ask this committee to turn down the things the insurance companies are asking for.” What the insurance companies are asking for is embodied in a package of “tort reform” proposals that basically would change the way many plaintiffs’ attorneys do their work and limit the amount of money both the injured persons and their lawyers could recover from defendants in personal injury cases \(TO, of planning, lobbying and advertising by insurance companies and their large corporate clients has borne fruit in the introduction of Senate Bill 287, sponsored by Democrats John Montford, Grant Jones, and Ray Farabee. On March 5, the Senate Economic Development committee heard testimony from the injured and the ill people like Curtis Goforth, who see “tort reform” as a threat to the pursuit of civil justice. Fred Werth, 36, did repair work in apartments and houses. in Austin until May 15, 1984, when he came in contact with two pesticides, Dursban 2e and Whitemire PJ 250. On the day in question, Werth was making repairs at an apartment in the UT, area. He left for a few minutes to get some additional materials. When he returned, “there were puddles of pesticides around the baseboards. I opened the windows and doors and turned on the air conditioning and left.” Forty-five minutes later, Werth returned to the apartment, wearing a painter’s mask and began working again. Werth says he and a co-worker worked in that apartment for about 40 minutes. “That was the last good day I had for a long time,” he says. The next day, Werth felt disoriented and nauseated. He went for his usual morning run and came back “sweating pesticides.” After a hot shower, Werth went to work at the same complex, but could not work. He said his helper on the job didn’t show up at all. “[The other man] called and said he’d thrown up all day `til he threw up blood,” Werth recalled. Why They Sue Accident Victims Tell Their Stories to the Senate By Jo Clifton THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13