Monday, November 26, 2007
The March 2005 explosion at a BP refinery in Texas City, Texas, killed 15 workers and resulted in numerous lawsuits. BP has admitted responsibility and most suits have been settled; the first trial starts today in Galveston. Famed plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Lanier is trying the case and alleges "breathtaking . . . criminality" in the permitting process, specifically relating to a former regulator working for BP on obtaining permits for the refinery.
BP has entered into a plea agreement to resolve criminal charges; workers are attempting to derail that deal as insufficient punishment.
The story suggests that BP could have punitive damages exposure of up to $1 billion based on the alleged fraud in permitting, but that number appears untethered to anything other than, perhaps, Lanier's suggestion as to how much he'll ask for.
(Past discussion of the BP case is here.)