Australian court clears lawsuit against Esso

A $1 billion (Aus.) class action suit brought by Australian businesses and households over a gas supply interruption lasting about 2 weeks in 1998�stemming from a fatal 1998 gas explosion at Esso Australia Ltd.'s Longford gas processing plant�will go ahead, since the Australian federal court has rejected Esso�s claim that the suit was 'unreal and unarguable.'


A $1 billion (Aus.) class action suit brought by Australian businesses and home consumers over a gas supply interruption lasting nearly 2 weeks in 1998�stemming from a gas explosion at Esso Australia Ltd.'s Longford gas processing plant�will proceed, since an Australian federal court has rejected Esso�s claim that the suit was �unreal and unarguable."

The class action suit is the biggest brought in Australia, and was lodged on behalf of more than a million gas consumers following the Sept. 25, 1998, Longford incident, which killed two Esso employees and left the Australian state of Victoria without gas supplies for nearly 2 weeks(OGJ, Oct. 5, 1998, p. 38).

The court did dismiss an allegation that Esso had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by claiming it was able to maintain a reliable gas supply. The judges ruled that the remaining negligence case can proceed, rejecting Esso�s arguments.

An inquiry previously found that Esso was responsible for the explosion by failing to adequately train its workforce (OGJ, July 5, 1999, p. 40).

Esso was considering whether to appeal the federal court's decision.

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