John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Oct. 18, 2013, 12:10pm

GALVESTON - The recently concluded first trial into a 2010 toxic release at BP's former Texas City refinery featured three attorneys who are no strangers to litigation involving accidents at petrochemical and energy companies.

A look at the profiles of lead plaintiffs' attorney Tony Buzbee of The Buzbee Law Firm in Houston and BP defense attorneys Damond R. Mace of Squire Sanders in Cleveland, Ohio, and Kenneth Tekell Sr. of Tekell Book Allen & Morris LLP in Houston shows histories including legal battles over explosions and spills as well as qualifications and credentials which aided them in those battles.

Buzbee is representing thousands of local residents and workers who claim to have been negatively affected by the six-week long emissions event, which was linked to the failure of the hydrogen compressor in the refinery’s ultracracker unit on April 6, 2010. Plaintiffs argue that BP considers profits more important than people, safety and the environment.

The Houston attorney is fresh from arguing for three plaintiffs selected out of 50,000, having lost the trial billed by presiding judge Lonnie Cox of the Galveston County 56th District Court as a "test" to see how the other claimants' cases will proceed.

The Texas A&M University graduate and former Marine earned a worldwide reputation representing Spain's Basque government in the largest oil spill in the Iberian nation's history and acclaim among his peers at home fighting for more than 160 workers injured in the largest industrial accident in U.S. history.

The Buzbee Law Firm's Web site states that Buzbee uses his skills he acquired in the Marines when trying cases.

Mace was successful in securing a jury verdict in BP's favor after five weeks of testimony and two days of deliberation, a verdict a spokesman with the defendant said was an affirmation of the company's view that "no one suffered any injury" as a result of the release between April and May 2010.

The verdict became among the many courtroom achievements in the past 25 years for Mace, a Harvard University graduate who was also an honors chemistry major in undergraduate school.

Known for using his scientific background to simplify complex issues for juries and judges, Mace possesses broad litigation experience in environmental/pollution cases from which he has won numerous trials, earning Best Lawyer In America honors along the way.

Tekell served as Mace's teammate during the trial which lasted from Sept. 11 to Oct. 10.

A self-proclaimed "fast talker," Tekell formed his practice in 1966 and has been a trial lawyer for more than 45 years, a career that saw him travel all over Texas and the U.S. to defend industrial clients.

The 75-year-old Tekell said during his side's closing arguments in the trial - which included his "If the pieces do not fit, you must acquit" remark - that his final statements are his last as an attorney, hinting a transition into retirement.


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