BP Argues Validity of Toxic Spill Workers’ Comp Claims

Texas Lawsuit Plaintiffs Allege BP Must Pay Workers’ Comp Claims Due to Toxic Spill

workers' comp claimsIn February 2013, BP sold a Galveston, Texas-area refinery to Marathon Petroleum. However, some former employees at the plant filed a lawsuit two months later, claiming that injuries related to release of toxic chemicals at the plant led to serious chronic and potentially lethal health issues, and BP was responsible for the workers’ comp claims to cover the long-term healthcare costs.

“From November 10, 2011 through possibly early December 2011, BP reportedly released sulfur dioxide, methyl carpaptan, dimethyl disulfide and other toxic chemicals into the atmosphere,” the complaint stated. “Despite that the leak had been reported, BP denied the dangerousness of the leak, or that any harm could be caused from it.”

Over 500 plaintiffs still seek $1 billion in damages. The plaintiffs claim that the release of toxic chemicals was so devastating that nearby Dow Chemicals had several alarms go off in response. That company provided their employees with respirators, but several employees became ill as a result of the toxic chemical release. They join former BP workers in the demand for financial help covering their healthcare costs through a personal injury lawsuit.

BP argued for the dismissal of 315 plaintiffs from the lawsuit, claiming that workers’ comp is the only way to cover the medical costs of those contractors and subcontractors. While a judge ruled on January 6th that BP is on the right track with this argument, the international petroleum producer now demands more evidence from those plaintiffs to validate their workers comp claims.

“Under Texas law, the assertion that a workers’ compensation policy provides the exclusive remedy for a plaintiff’s injuries is an affirmative defense,” U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison wrote. However, BP can now demand solid evidence that those plaintiffs’ injuries were “work-related.”

“Nothing in the fact sheet excerpts indicates where or when plaintiffs believe they were exposed to BP’s alleged chemical release,” Ellison wrote in a 4-page order. However, the judge said he would “look favorably on a renewed motion for summary judgment on claims that may be subject to the exclusive remedy of workers’ compensation” after BP examines the circumstances of the workers’ reported injuries.

While BP tries to legally dance around paying former workers for their serious injuries, these workers need either workers comp or personal injury payments to help them as they accrue medical bills.

The Strom Law Firm Understands Worker’s Comp Legislation

Any full-time employee (working for an employer with four or more employees) who has an employment related injury and needs medical attention should be covered under workers’ compensation insurance. It doesn’t matter if the injury was a complete accident or the fault of a co-worker.

The workers’ comp lawyers at The Strom Law Firm, LLC proudly seek justice on behalf of employees injured or killed on the job who work for private companies, as well as employees working for local county, city, and state government. We are licensed to practice throughout South Carolina, as well as Georgia and New York. If you are confused about worker’s comp laws, or have had your worker’s comp claim denied, contact us. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case. 803.252.4800.