ExxonMobil denied appeal in explosion lawsuit
BATON ROUGE - More than 25 years after a fatal explosion at its Scenic Highway refinery, the Louisiana Supreme Court has rejected ExxonMobil’s request for a new hearing in a lawsuit filed by 8.500 residents in response to the blast.
The Aug. 2, 1993 explosion at the plant's East Coker Unit forced nearby residents to shelter in place while their neighborhoods were covered in ash and debris.
Residents were exposed to emissions for some time without any alert, court records show. Some people reported irritation, nausea and vomiting.
Initial lawsuits in state and federal courts failed, so residents turned to Baton Rouge City Court, which handles small claims. After a series of appeals, the court ruled in favor of six residents. Five were awarded $2,500 each while the sixth resident was awarded $1,250.
ExxonMobil appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court but was denied a hearing this week. One of the attorneys representing the residents said Tuesday many more lawsuits will now be filed in city court on behalf of the other residents.
"The neighborhood has prevailed. They have proven this is Exxon's problem at Exxon's cost," said Baton Rouge attorney Louis Unglesby.
In response to the ruling, ExxonMobil released the following statement Tuesday:
ExxonMobil disagrees that the City Court adequately followed the Louisiana Supreme Court's prior instructions to conform damages awarded to 6 plaintiffs in the Andre Aaron v. ExxonMobil Corp. lawsuit to prior case precedent. We strive to continuously improve the safety of our facilities, and our workforce safety is among the best in our industry. ExxonMobil's meticulous attention to the safe operation of our facilities has ensured strict compliance with regulatory requirements at the federal, state and local levels. We operate to the highest standards to protect the health and safety of our workers and neighbors. We invest millions of dollars annually in site-wide safety training programs with proven results.