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Bystanders and workers seek $1 billion in damages from BP

Back in October we discussed how work-related fires, explosions and chemical leaks can threaten not only employees and contractors, but also bystanders in the area. In an ongoing lawsuit against BP over a chemical release at a Texas City refinery, the list of more than 500 plaintiffs includes refinery workers and workers at a nearby Dow Chemical plant, as well as residents who live in close proximity to the refinery.

Readers in the Galveston area may recall the circumstances of the 2011 toxic release. According to the lawsuit against BP, sulphur dioxide levels from the refinery were so high that they set off an alarm at the Dow plant. The plaintiffs, who are seeking $1 billion in punitive damages, claim that BP downplayed how dangerous the leak was.

The complaint was eventually moved to federal court, where BP has asked a judge to dismiss 315 workers' claims, arguing that workers' compensation is the exclusive remedy for the workers' injuries.

However, the judge pointed out that BP failed to show that the 315 workers' injuries were work-related. The judge did say, though, that workers' compensation may be the appropriate remedy if BP can prove that the injuries arose from work-related circumstances.

A remedy of workers' comp is certainly not available to the Texas City residents who say they were injured by the chemical leak, and it is likely that those claims will go to trial.

To learn more about property and business owners' obligations to bystanders, please visit The Shelton Law Firm's bystander injury overview.

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