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MONDAY, JANUARY 22, 2007
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EDITORIAL

Ill chemist died without having his day in court

We hope Jack Cline finds justice in the next world. He struck out in this world — specifically, in this state.

Mr. Cline, of Vance in Tuscaloosa County, was a chemist. He learned in 1999 that he had leukemia, which he blamed on benzene. He sued Ashland Inc., Chevron Phillips Chemical and Exxon Mobil, but the courts threw out his suit because he had missed a filing deadline.

Under Alabama law, Mr. Cline would have had to sue within two years after exposure to a toxic chemical. That deadline passed in 1989 — 10 years before he was diagnosed.

Early this month, the Alabama Supreme Court reaffirmed its decision against Mr. Cline. His wife, Jane, said this news came as “a blow ... It hurt, because he’s fought for that so much. I think that’s really what he was living for.”

He died Wednesday at 67.

Mr. Cline’s lawyer says all other states have a time limit dating from when a person learns of an illness, not the last exposure. The Legislature ought to change Alabama’s law so that people like Mr. Cline will get their day in court.

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