"BP Wins $99 Million Reduction in Toxic Fumes Case"

"A federal judge in Houston on Tuesday shot down a mammoth $100 million December verdict against BP's Texas City refinery, cutting the award to less than half a million and dealing the British oil giant a rare legal victory as it struggles to overcome several years of problems at the plant.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt said plaintiffs failed to prove London-based BP was grossly negligent in a chemical release at the refinery that sent more than 100 workers to area hospitals on the evening of April 19, 2007.

Without “clear and convincing” evidence of gross negligence, Hoyt wrote in his ruling, the $100 million in punitive damages initially awarded 10 workers from that group “must be set aside.”

Instead, he awarded the 10 workers a combined $340,660 in actual damages for medical expenses, lost income and mental anguish.

The ruling effectively guts a headline-grabbing decision by a Galveston federal jury in December and could strengthen's BP's position as it faces other cases related to the incident. "

Brett Clanton reports for the Houston Chronicle March 17, 2010.

Thursday, March 18, 2010