BP must pay more than $100 million in damages for exposing contract workers to toxic chemicals, even though none of the 10 employees in the case suffered major long-term health effects.
A federal jury reached that verdict in connection with an April 19, 2007, poisonous chemical leak at its Texas City, TX, plant. The workers claimed BP failed to maintain equipment and provide adequate safety controls.
BP says it will appeal. The company argues there is no evidence workers were exposed to toxic substances above federal permissible limits.
The jury awarded each worker $10 million in punitive damages, as well as actual damages to cover medical expenses and lost income, ranging from $6,000 to $244,000 each.
Anthony Buzbee, the lawyer representing the 10 workers, says he plans to file lawsuits for an additional 133 workers at the plant.
OSHA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality investigated the 2007 incident. However, the investigations were closed without any notice of violations.
The workers were exposed to carbon disulfide, a harmful chemical that made them feel like they had flu symptoms. Monitors workers were wearing weren’t designed to track the chemical.
One of the workers in the case, 30-year-old Chuck Taylor, spent two nights in the hospital with chest pains after the incident. He still has headaches, dizziness and fatigue.
“The reason I brought the case is because BP’s record is so horrific, and despite deaths and injuries that continue to occur, nothing’s changed,” said Buzbee.
The Texas City plant was also the location where 15 employees were killed and dozens more were injured in a 2005 explosion and fire. BP paid a $50 million fine for that incident, and OSHA has proposed another $87 million in fines for failing to make safety upgrades required under a settlement agreement.
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