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Infant Death Blamed on BP Refinery Leak

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By Laura Strachan, Esq. on August 24, 2010 12:16 PM

This has been a very bad year for BP. A Texas mother is now suing BP for the death of her infant son -- a death she claims was caused by chemicals released into the air during the BP refinery leak this past Spring. The cause of Julius Provosts' death could not be determined by the local medical examiner's office, but his mother believes that the exposure to over 500,000 pounds of chemicals released during the leak was the ultimate cause of her son's death.

The wrongful death lawsuit claims that Sharon Champion's six month-old son was cared for by an aunt that lived one mile from the BP refinery, according to Southeast Texas Record. When the leak started, so did the following symptoms: runny nose, eye mucus, and a violent cough. Champion's attorney, Anthony Buzbee, is quoted in the Claims Journal, "It's almost like the baby drowned to death in its own fluids. BP will continue to downplay this and say their monitors failed to pick this up."

Provost originally had a case of pneumonia, a condition that the suit claims was worsened by repeated exposure to the noxious gas released by the BP refinery. Houston-based Buzbee is also the lead attorney for the class action against BP stemming from the same leak. Why not just join the class action for this infant death? The answer is simple-- the injuries are not the same, and warrant a separate lawsuit. The class action against BP, previously discussed on this blog, mainly concerns how the pollutants have affected the health and property values of the people who live and work near the refinery.

Although the cause of injuries is essentially the same for both lawsuits, proving the elements for a wrongful death lawsuit is different from the elements required for the class action against BP. Whether the determination in one case could be used as proof (or lack thereof) of BP's liability in the other action will be left to judicial discretion. Both the class action and the infant wrongful death suit seek $10 billion in damages.

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