Supreme Court refuses to take up the case of leukemia victim

The widow of a leukemia victim failed to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to take up her case against oil companies over her husband's exposure to a toxic chemical.

The justices without comment refused to take up the case of Martha Jane Cline, who is trying to hold the companies accountable for her late husband's health problems. Jack Cline, of the southern state of Alabama, died in January.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that Cline had waited to long to sue, even though he did not know he was sick until after the deadline to sue had passed.

Alabama courts have held there is a two-year window to file a lawsuit from the last exposure to toxic chemicals, but they also have held there must be an injury before a lawsuit is filed. There was never a time when Cline, a longtime chemist who blamed exposure to benzene for his illness, could have filed suit because the two-year deadline passed in 1989 and he was not diagnosed with the disease until 1999.

Lawyers for Martha Cline argued to the U.S. high court that it should take up the case because it has long held that people must be given a reasonable amount of time to sue.

Jack Cline had sued Ashland Inc., Chevron Phillips Chemical and Exxon Mobil over exposure to benzene, but state courts threw out the lawsuit.