By Scott E. Williams
The Daily News
Published May 28, 2008
TEXAS CITY — Petroleum giant BP placed profits over people, plaintiffs’ attorney Brent Coon said, as he had in the first cases brought to trial over the March 2005 blasts at the Texas City refinery.
The plaintiffs in the trial under way Tuesday in the 212th State District Court are claiming various injuries, stemming from the blasts, which killed 15, injured hundreds more and spawned more than 3,000 lawsuits.
While BP has admitted culpability for the explosions, the company has defended itself in two previous court proceedings, arguing that the blasts were not fully responsible for the claimed injuries.
In both prior cases, settlements between the parties ended the trials after a few days of testimony.
About three-quarters of all cases have since settled, including all of the wrongful-death lawsuits.
For BP, settling those cases has already exhausted the $1.6 billion the petrochemical giant had set aside for paying settled claims.
At the outset of the mass litigation, 212th State District Court Judge Susan Criss had instructed lawyers to bundle plaintiffs into groups of eight to try the cases as efficiently as possible, while still giving all parties fair trials.
The cases also were scheduled in order of severity, with death cases coming first, followed by personal-injury cases at the refinery.
Cases involving off-site injuries and property damage will follow.