A $1 billion claim against BP is working its way through the court system, with a federal judge recently ruling that BP needed to introduce more evidence about its claims. In 2013, BP sold its refinery in Texas City to Marathon Petroleum. Two months after the sale, over 500 plaintiffs sued BP, claiming they were exposed to toxic chemicals BP released from the refinery in 2011.
Specifically, the plaintiffs say that the leak included sulfur dioxide, methyl carpatan, dimethyl disulfide and other toxic chemicals. BP denied how dangerous the leak was or that any harm could be caused from it. A neighboring Dow Chemical plant picked up a hazardous level of sulfur dioxide caused by the leak and set off an alarm. Because of the deadly release, Dow shut down most of its plant and took some workers off site for medical treatment, while giving others respirators.
The 500 plaintiffs sued for damages. The plaintiffs include workers at the refinery or Dow Chemical, as well as Texas City residents who lived nearby. The case was moved to federal court, and BP is seeking to dismiss 351 of the claims, alleging that the workers at BP are entitled to only workers’ compensation. A federal judge agreed, but said that BP must prove that the workers’ injuries were work-related.
As this case illustrates, in general, if an employee is injured on the job, he or she is limited to workers’ compensation. In some cases and employee may be able to sue the employer for damages.