Email Chains Burn BP in Massive Plaintiff Multidistrict Litigation

17 Dec 2012

Oil giant BP is facing a massive MDL lawsuit in the Lone Star state. Plaintiffs are 47,830 sick residents, plant contractors and workers from the Texas City, Texas area. A fire at the town’s BP oil refinery caused the company to release over 513,795 pounds of toxic chemicals into the air over an astonishing 40-day period.

The plaintiff steering committee has overseen over 50 oral depositions of BP executives, and has already received partial defense productions of electronic data and documents. Although BP denied the emissions have surpassed the state standards, email chains produced during the eDiscovery period reveal otherwise.

Prior to the lawsuit, the EPA had found a certain piece of equipment, called the ultracracker flare, burned pollution at a considerably lower rate than was required by the state. Although BP denies this, internal email chains noted the “poor destruction efficiency” of the ultracracker flare. Citing the “old flare tip design” as the possible reason, the email threads go on to warn that “under low flame gas flow rate conditions…combustion efficiency may be (significantly) below acceptable values.”

The lawsuit is ongoing, and plaintiff trial attorneys believe the case to be extremely significant. They allege BP purposefully chose to engage in unlawful pollution, as EPA fines would have been cheaper than fixing the problem. As a result, 47,830 people were sickened to various degrees.

As is a running theme in our blogs, email analytics and email threads are often the “smoking gun” of modern litigation. Our plaintiff eDiscovery experts offer full computer forensic services to uncover hidden data, trace artifacts, metadata and deleted email files that can make or break a case. Call us at 888-313-4457 for more information.

ILS – Plaintiff Electronic Discovery Firm