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Archive for Wednesday, October 25, 2006

BP settles lawsuit in lymphoma case

October 25, 2006

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— BP Amoco has settled a lawsuit filed by a man who claimed that exposure to pollution from the company's plant in Sugar Creek caused him to get non-Hodgkin's lymphoma when he was 11 years old.

The terms of the settlement were not announced under an agreement between BP and lawyers for Justin Detel, 20, who sued the company in March 2004. The lawsuit was settled Friday, two weeks before it was scheduled to go to trial.

Amoco, which is now part of BP, operated a 430-acre refinery in Sugar Creek from 1904 to 1982. In 1987, the Missouri Department of Health found that high chemical concentrations at the site increased the risk of cancer for people with long-term exposure to the soil or sludge.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources said many spills and leaks occurred, contaminating the soil, sediment and groundwater. A plume of contaminated groundwater went south of the refinery in a residential area known as Norledge.

"We're pleased the parties were able to resolve the matter before it went to trial," BP spokesman Ron Rybarczyk said.

Thirty-one similar lawsuits against BP by Sugar Creek residents are awaiting trials, said attorney Lon Walters, one of Detel's attorneys.

"There was overwhelming evidence that his illness was caused by the refinery," Walters said. "We're very pleased that we were able to get the case resolved for him. He's really went through a lot with his treatment and his illness. It's always best for both parties take the uncertainty of a jury trial and replace it with the certainty of a settlement."

Walters and attorney Christin Cipolla won their case against BP in November 2005, collecting $13.3 million and undisclosed punitive damages for Leonard Ryan, whose wife died from leukemia.

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