Man loses claim against BP for injuries allegedly sustained in Deepwater Horizon cleanup

By Takesha Thomas | Feb 14, 2019

A district court has granted a motion for summary judgment filed by BP Exploration after a former employee claims he was injured during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. 

U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana Sarah S. Vance on Feb. 4 granted BP Exploration & Production's motion for summary judgment "because there is no competent evidence to prove" plaintiff Melvin Banegas' "medical diagnosis or causation." 

Banegas had sued BP alleging that he was exposed to harmful chemicals after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. According to court filings, Banegas was part of an organized effort to clean the shoreline near Venice, La., of toxic materials released as a result of the oil spill. 

During his work between May 2010 and April 2011, Banegas alleges that he was exposed to "oil, dispersants, and other harmful chemicals." In March 2013, he was diagnosed with chronic conjunctivitis, chronic sinusitis, dermatitis, eczema, shortness of breath and dizziness, the suit alleges. 

Judge Vance found that, "The only evidence before the Court that supports plaintiff’s medical diagnosis, or an inference of causation, is a two-page Examination Report from Industrial Medicine Specialists (IMS), dated March 1, 2013. But even if plaintiff were to belatedly designate his examiner from IMS as a non-retained expert, any such testimony would be inadmissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence."

Under the BP Settlement Agreement, BP was resolved of any damages claimed for "certain individuals exposed to harmful chemicals as a result of the oil spill. One exception to this rule is when a class member’s injury caused by his exposure to harmful chemicals is first diagnosed after April 16, 2012. So long as certain preconditions are met, class members suffering from these Later-Manifested Physical Conditions (LMPCs) are permitted to file suit against BP in federal court as part of the Settlement Agreement’s Back-End Litigation Option," according to court papers. 

Banegas did not opt out of BP's Settlement Agreement. He initially filed claim in August 2017, alleging that his injuries "were legally and proximately caused by his exposure to toxic chemicals during his clean-up efforts."

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