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Lawsuit accuses Chevron of gross negligence in refinery fire

Last week’s explosion at a Richmond, Calif. plant sent more than 9,000 people to the hospital

Three attorneys hit Chevron Corp. with the first lawsuit in connection with last week’s extensive refinery fire in Richmond, Calif.

On Aug. 6, a leaky 40-year-old pipe reportedly allowed a dense vapor cloud to envelop a section of the refinery and subsequently ignite. The resulting cloud of black smoke sent more than 9,000 people to nearby hospitals with complaints including headaches, seizures and respiratory problems.

Civil rights lawyer John Burris and two other attorneys filed suit Wednesday on behalf of area residents, accusing Chevron of negligence for failing to repair the pipe. The complaint also cited 13 additional Richmond refinery fires that have occurred since 1989. “This was avoidable,” Burris said. “This community deserves better. They should not have been subjected to the fire and the toxins that flowed from it.”

The lawsuit accuses Chevron of multiple counts including battery, negligence, trespass, intentional infliction of emotional distress and unfair business practices. Plaintiffs are seeking safety upgrades and unspecified punitive and compensatory damages. A Chevron spokesman said that the company “adheres to all applicable laws and regulations and cooperates with all inspections.”

The Richmond fire is another black eye for the oil company, which is currently fighting several international lawsuits. Brazilian prosecutors sued Chevron for $10.6 billion over its alleged role in a November 2011 oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. And an Ecuadorean judge recently ordered the company to pay $19.04 billion to end a 19-year legal battle over environmental pollution (Chevron is seeking to dismiss the case).

Read more at The San Francisco Chronicle.

For more InsideCounsel coverage of Chevron, see:

Ecuadorian plaintiffs sue Chevron in Brazil

Ecuadorian plaintiffs sue Chevron in Canada

District court dismisses many of Chevron’s claims against Ecuador

Chevron seeks records of alleged bribes in Ecuadorian oil pollution suit

Brazilian oil workers sue Chevron and Transocean

Brazil sues Chevron and Transocean over Rio de Janeiro oil spill

Ecuadorian court rules Chevron must pay $9 billion for oil pollution


Alanna Byrne

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