More Trouble for BP Texas City: Jury Awards $100M to workers

[tweetmeme]A Federal jury ordered BP to pay $100 million to 10 workers who were sickened by a 2007 chemical release at its Texas City refinery.  This is just another installment of trouble for this refinery, which happens to be the third largest in the United States.  Of course BP has vowed to appeal the verdict, but that won’t solve their public relations nightmare.  As I write this blog post, the story is being picked up all over the world, and this news headline won’t soon be forgotten.

According to the suit, the workers said they were exposed to the chemicals while repairing two refining units damaged in a plantwide 2005 shutdown prior to Hurricane Rita’s strike on the Texas Coast.   They said BP had a poorly maintained workplace and lacked sufficient monitoring to detect toxic chemicals or warn workers of a release.

BP countered that the plant did not release a toxic substance, and the company had no control over the “odor event” that stemmed from another unidentified party’s negligence.  Tony Buzbee the worker’s attorney also represents another 133 workers suing BP over the chemical release.

Originally his clients asked BP for $5,000 each in damages, Buzbee said, but went to trial when BP wouldn’t budge from a $500 settlement offer to each worker.  Now I am not a mathematician, but $5,000 x 10 = $50,000 by my count.  Even adding in the other 133 workers ($665,000) that is still well short of the $100 million jury verdict.  I would hazard a guess that BP spent this amount in legal fees, and other related costs fighting this lawsuit. 

This is a case where standing on principal was a fool’s errand for BP!  Executives at BP owe their stockholders an explanation for this debacle.

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