BP says third-party negligence to blame for 2009 benzene leak at Texas City refinery

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau May 16, 2011, 9:53am

GALVESTON - BP Products North America Inc. recently filed its response to a $500 million lawsuit against it over a benzene leak two years ago at the Texas City refinery.

The petrochemical company entered its original answer April 4 in the Galveston County 405th District Court, arguing the eight contractors suing it for the Aug. 19, 2009, leak at its Texas City refinery were not injured by any of its conduct.

As the Southeast Texas Record previously reported, the workers filed a lawsuit March 4 claiming they "were injured and had his or her long-term health put in jeopardy after being exposed to extremely high levels of benzene."

However BP denies it was due to negligence on its part.

"The defendant specifically denies that it was guilty of any negligence whatsoever, and if the plaintiffs were not negligent then the occurrence(s) and alleged injuries and damages were the result of an unavoidable accident and/or acts of God," recent court documents say.

BP links the incident to "the negligence and/or intervening and/or superseding acts of a third party or third parties over whom (it) had no control."

"The risk of the harm claimed by the plaintiffs is an open and obvious risk, or risk that is a matter of common knowledge," the response says.

"To the extent that they exist, the plaintiffs' pre-existing conditions caused the plaintiffs' alleged injuries."

BP insists the complainants have failed to mitigate any damages and requests a jury trial.

It is represented by McLeod, Alexander, Powel & Apffel P.C.

Case No. 11-cv-0393

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