Bena v. Massachusetts Turnpike Authority

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Bena V. Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (Department of Industrial Accidents, Worcester, Massachusetts)

An employee named Phyllis Bena claimed workers' compensation for respiratory and pulmonary injuries allegedly caused by her exposure to secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) while working for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. Bena smoked about a pack of cigarettes a day for approximately 29 years until she quit smoking in 1980 or 1981. She alleged that the symptoms for which she claimed compensation developed after she stopped smoking.

On October 2, 1991, an administrative judge awarded worker's compensation to Ms. Bena and found that she had become totally incapacitated dating from May 26, 1989, to the date of the hearing and continuing. According to the judge's findings, Ms. Bena's "disability bears a direct causal relationship to her heavy passive smoke inhalation over a number of years at the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) which had served to aggravate her underlying condition of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)." The judge stated that Ms. Bena's own smoking was "the major factor in her development of COPD," but that she had no symptoms when she quit smoking and that her condition deteriorated dramatically when she was exposed to ETS. The insurer was also directed to pay medical expenses and attorneys fees. [1][2]

The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority decided not to pursue an appeal. [3]


  1. Shook, Hardy and Bacon Report on Recent ETS and IAQ Developments Report, 35 pp. January 3, 1992. Lorillard Bates No. 87766702/6736
  2. Reuters/Seattle Times Ex-smoker is compensated - disability blamed on others' smoking Newspaper article. December 7, 1991. Tobacco Institute Bates No. TI10272366/2367
  3. Dahl R, Lawyers Weekly Attrney: Passive smoke award is a first Printout of news article. December 23, 1991. Philip Morris Bates No. 2073963689/3690

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