Woman blames infant death on BP chemical leak, seeks $10B

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Aug. 23, 2010, 10:26am

GALVESTON - A Southeast Texas woman claims her infant son died because he was exposed to deadly chemicals escaping from the BP refinery in Texas City and is seeking $10 billion from the company in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Sharon Champion of Hitchcock says her 6-month-old son, Julius Provost, died on June 23 from symptoms connected with pneumonia which she alleges were worsened by lengthy exposure to the more than 500,000 pounds of chemicals released at the refinery between April 6 and May 16.

The Buzbee Law Firm filed the suit Aug. 19 in Galveston County District Court on Champion's behalf.

The suit states that while his mother worked the infant was cared for at his aunt's house, which is a mile from the refinery. The emissions allegedly began when the hydrogen compressor in the Ultracracker unit went offline.

Champion claims that after the chemical release began the child began to have a runny nose, a bad cough and mucus in his eyes.

She insists despite taking him to three hospitals, physicians at each facility were unable to find the cause of his illness.

The Galveston County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the death undetermined.

Refinery manager Keith Casey is named a co-defendant in the suit.

Attorney Anthony Buzbee has already filed a class action against BP over the alleged chemical leak on behalf of thousands of refinery workers and Texas City residents who lived near the facility. Buzbee argues the refinery let the leak go unreported in order to avoid financial losses.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott also filed a suit against BP over the alleged emissions.

Galveston County 212th District Court Judge Susan Criss is presiding over the case.

Case No. 10-cv-2297

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