Appeals court affirms ruling ordering ExxonMobil to pay residents for damages related to 1993 refinery fire

By Takesha Thomas | Jan 30, 2019

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana's First Circuit Court of Appeal recently affirmed a trial court's ruling that ExxonMobil should pay out damages incurred to residents after a 1993 pipeline explosion at it's Baton Rouge facility.

In its Dec. 27 ruling, the appeals court said the Baton Route City Court "did not manifestly err in allocating 100 percent fault to Exxon after remand." The appeals court added, "We further find that the city court did not abuse its vast discretion in fixing the amount of general damages awarded. Accordingly, the writ application is denied; the judgment after remand is affirmed."

The writ application was filed after Exxonl was ordered to pay damages to six residents living near the scene of an explosion and fire in 1993 at Exxon's refinery in Baton Rouge. The court ordered that Exxon pay between  $2,500 to $500 to the residents.

According to court documents, the refinery was located directly across the street from a densely populated residential community. "During the two and a half hours the main fire burned, the fire produced a thick smoke plume, which moved in an easterly direction across the community adjacent to the facility," court filings said. "The explosion and fire also released ash and debris. The debris, including asbestos particles, was spewed from the East Coker Unit and scattered about the residential community located across the street from the refinery. The ash and debris landed on the people and property of the community."

Exxon said the East Coker Unit was "designed, constructed and inspected by Foster Wheeler Corporation in the 1960 prior to Exxon taking over the facility," court filings said. Exxon contended that it was Foster Wheeler that installed the elbow pipe that ruptured. Exxon sought to have charges against them removed arguing that Foster Wheeler should instead be held mainly responsible for the fire since they were the original site constructors. 

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