Punitive damages rejected in BP leak case

A federal judge rejected a Galveston, Tex., jury’s award of $100 million in punitive damages against BP PLC concerning injuries to contract workers during a 2007 gas leak at its 446,500-b/cd Texas City, Tex., refinery.

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Mar. 19 –
A federal judge rejected a Galveston, Tex., jury’s award of $100 million in punitive damages against BP PLC concerning injuries to contract workers during a 2007 gas leak at its 446,500-b/cd Texas City, Tex., refinery.

US District Judge Kenneth Hoyt on Mar. 16 rejected a December 2009 jury decision to award $10 million each to 10 contract workers who said they were injured in a release of what might have been carbon disulfide on Apr. 19, 2007.

The 2007 incident is unrelated to the March 2005 explosion that killed 15 people and injured 170 others at the refinery. That incident prompted lawsuits and a series of recommendations about process safety (OGJ, Sept. 8, 2008, p. 20).

Regarding the 2007 lawsuit, Hoyt said BP did not intend to harm the workers. He said the workers failed to prove gross negligence.

Hoyt left intact a total of $326,000 in actual damages the jury awarded for pain, suffering, medical costs, and lost earnings. The jury awarded varying amounts to various workers.

A BP spokesman said the company believes evidence in the 2007 case did not warrant a finding against the company in any amount, and BP is considering an appeal of the actual damages.

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