Toxicity report trial ends with $1.4M verdict

David Yates Sep. 19, 2011, 9:18am

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story failed to state that the allegation of falsification had been removed from the plaintiff's petition. The story, although based from the plaintiff's original petition, incorrectly stated that the toxicity report had been falsified. Jurors found that the defendants were negligent in their testing of a toxicity report.

Last month, a Jefferson County jury awarded Martin Product Sales nearly $1 million in damages, plus an additional $445,500 in attorney's fees, finding that two defendants were negligent in handing over an inaccurate toxicity report.

Martin had originally filed suit against Camin Cargo Control and Chemtex Environmental Laboratory on Dec. 19, 2008, in Jefferson County District Court, alleging the chemical testing companies falsified levels of toxic contaminants in a batch of sulfuric acid.

Court records show that the plaintiff's original petition was never served and amended to remove the allegation that the defendants falsified the toxicity report. Later petitions allege the inaccurate report was the result of negligent testing.

Camin Cargo attorney Don Lighty told the Southeast Record that his client was not involved in the actual testing.

The case went to trial on July 25 in Judge Bob Wortham's 58th District Court and ended Aug. 2.

According to the charge of the court, jurors found Camin and Chemtex equally negligent, assigning 50 percent of the blame to each defendant.

Jurors awarded Martin $991,465.77 for the expenses associated with the sale and distribution of sulfuric acid and also awarded an additional $445,500 in attorney's fees.

Court records show Martin sold 1,400 metric tons of sulfuric acid after Camin and Chemtex reported there were negligible amounts of undesirable contaminants in the sulfuric acid.

Martin sold the 1,400 metric tons of sulfuric acid and relied on the defendants to sample, analyze and test the sulfuric acid to reveal whether it contained appreciable levels of commercially undesirable contaminants, such as highly toxic mercury, and to reveal any contaminants found.

Only after delivering the contaminated sulphuric acid to its customers did Martin Product Sales learn of the incorrect certification, the court papers say.

During the trial, Martin maintained that Camin and Chemtex breached their contract and warranties by failing to properly sample, test and analyze the sulfuric acid.

Beaumont attorneys Bill Richey represents Chemtex.

Martin Products is represented by Beaumont attorney Terry Wood.

Case No. A182-887

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