New Orleans Jury Awards $16M to 4 Workers for 2013 Plant Explosion

November 21, 2016

Four workers injured in a deadly 2013 petrochemical plant explosion in south Louisiana have been awarded a total of $16 million by a jury.

This week’s verdict follows a separate late September trial in which four other workers were awarded $13.6 million for injuries suffered at the Williams Olefins Geismar plant. Two people died in the ground-rattling June 2013 blast southeast of Baton Rouge. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board said there were 167 reported injuries.

In the verdict, the jury assigned just over 83 percent of the fault for the explosion to Williams Co. Inc., an Oklahoma-based business, and 16 percent of the blame to Sabic Petrochemicals, a Saudi energy company that was added as a co-defendant in the latest lawsuit. Two plant officials were assigned less than 1 percent of fault.

“Williams has made too many reckless choices that led to this explosion,” Kurt Arnold, an attorney for Houston-based Arnold & Itkin. The firm represents about 80 of the injured workers.

As it did after the first trial, Williams Olefins said it will appeal.

“Williams Olefins has admitted in numerous legal-related filings and ensuing reports, its responsibility for the accident. But, there was never any intent to injure anyone. We think the verdict does not comport with the law and will therefore appeal,” the company’s emailed statement said.

Susan LeBourdais, a spokeswoman for Sabic Petrochemicals, said in an email that the company does not comment on pending litigation, “except to say that we intend to pursue all available remedies.”


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