GALVESTON - The jury in the trial focusing on a 2010 toxic release at what was then BP's Texas City refinery reached a verdict shortly before noon Oct. 10 after two full days of deliberation.
They did agree that BP's negligence caused the emissions event that lasted 40 days in April and May 2010; however, they did not find that negligence caused the alleged suffering of the three plaintiffs.
According to the verdict, plaintiffs Jerald Ford, 46; Mary Knight; 53, and Libby Soriano, 61; received no damages for the health problems for which they sued the petrochemical company.
A fourth complainant was dismissed before both sides delivered closing arguments after he failed to demonstrate his claim.
About 50,000 residents and workers have filed suit over 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.
The outcome of this trial, which began Sept. 11, will establish how the other plaintiffs’ cases will proceed in Galveston County 56th District Court, where Judge Lonnie Cox is presiding over the litigation.
Damond Mace of international firm Squires Sanders and Kenneth Tekell Sr. of Houston's Tekell, Book, Allen & Morris LLP led BP's representation in court.
Lead plaintiffs' attorney Tony Buzbee, who accused BP of prioritizing profits over people, said the verdict "surprised" him, but is looking forward to trying the other so-called "test" cases.
"This was only the first one of several test cases," Buzbee said.
"We learned some things. We will gear up and try another one in a couple of months."
Scott Dean, a BP spokesperson, said the verdict "affirms BP's view that no one suffered any injury as a result of the flaring of the BP Ultracracker flare during April and May 2010."
"Armed with the knowledge gleaned from this case and this important jury verdict, the company will immediately begin to prepare for any additional proceedings involving other plaintiffs," Dean said.