'Test' trial over toxic emissions ends in favor of BP

By Marilyn Tennissen | Oct 10, 2013

GALVESTON – Three Texas City residents are not entitled to collect damages from a toxic release at the BP refinery, a Galveston jury determined today.

After a month-long trial and two days of deliberations, the jury absolved BP of wrongdoing when toxic gases leaked for 40 days in 2010 from the Texas City refinery, owned by BP at the time. 

After hearing closing arguments from plaintiffs’ attorney Tony Buzbee and defense attorneys Damond R. Mace and Kenneth Tekell, the jury of four men and eight women began the deliberation process the evening of Oct. 7.

Jurors must determine whether the first four plaintiffs of the so-called “test” trial are to be compensated for a reported six-week long chemical leak that followed the failure of the hydrogen compressor in the refinery’s ultracracker unit on April 6, 2010. Thousands of residents and workers have filed suit over the emissions event. The outcome of this trial will establish how the other plaintiffs’ cases will proceed.

According to Mace, the alleged victims lived in the Texas City-La Marque area for years without complaint, saying their case is not backed by scientific facts nor common sense.

During closing arguments, Tekell followed his teammate uttering a phrase based on that made famous by late celebrity attorney Johnny Cochran in the O.J. Simpson murder trial: “If the pieces do not fit, you must acquit.”

BP sold the refinery last year to Marathon Petroleum Corp.

Stay with the Southeast Texas Record for complete coverage.

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