A federal jury has awarded more than $100 million to ten workers who were injured in 2007 when a toxic substance was released at BP PLC’s Texas City plant. The jurors awarded each contract worker $10 million in punitive damages. Nine of the workers were also awarded between $5,000 and $10,000 for pain and suffering and medical expenses, while the tenth got more than $240,000.
As we have reported previously, the refinery, located about 30 miles southeast of Houston, was the site of a 2005 explosion that killed 15 people and injured 170. It was the worst U.S. industrial accident since 1990. The refinery has had a history of fires, chemical releases and worker deaths. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, which investigated the 2005 blast, found BP fostered bad management at the plant and that cost-cutting moves by BP were factors in the explosion. The jury’s award also comes after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in October imposed a record $87 million fine against BP for failing to correct safety hazards following the 2005 blast.
The workers’ lawsuit alleged that in April 2007, more than 100 contract employees at the plant were sent to hospitals after claiming they were exposed to a toxic substance released at the refinery. The workers said their injuries included dizziness and sore throats, with one employee passing out, after inhaling the substance. The workers did not have any long-term damage to their lungs. During the trial, BP claimed no toxic substance was released at the refinery on the date in question.
One of the worker’s gas masks was tested. The test revealed it had been exposed to carbon disulfide, a toxic colorless liquid. BP had a bad safety record. The company has a long history of leaks and releases. Tony Buzbee, a Houston lawyer, represented the ten workers and did a very good job.
Source: Insurance Journal
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