La Porte residents file lawsuit against ITC after chemical facility fire

By Brittany Taylor - Digital News Editor, Jonathan Martinez - Anchor/Reporter

DEER PARK, Texas - Four La Porte residents filed a lawsuit Friday against Intercontinental Terminals Co. after the recent fire at a chemical facility in Deer Park that burned for nearly four days. 

The four plaintiffs are seeking punitive damages against ITC in the amount of $2 million.

The lawsuit claims that ITC's negligence led to the plaintiffs being "severely harmed and made sick by ITC's conduct and have sought medical attention for the injuries they suffered from the incident." The lawsuit also claims they "were exposed to toxic chemicals from the release and had physical symptoms due to this release."

Although the fire was extinguished on Wednesday, benzene emitted from the ITC facility Thursday and caused a shelter-in-place for Deer Park residents after they were told they were safe, according to the lawsuit. 

The following damages claimed by the lawsuit include:

  • Conscious physical and mental pain and suffering and anguish, past and future
  • Loss of enjoyment of life and peace of mind, past and future
  • Loss of wages/earnings
  • Loss of enjoyment of real property and homes, and loss/diminution of property value, past and future
  • Reasonable and necessary medical, counseling, psychiatric, therapeutic and related expenses, past and future

The plaintiffs demand a jury trial and seek to recover not only monetary damages but also the costs of litigation.

READ: ITC lawsuit filed 3-22-19 

Benjamin Roberts is one of the attorneys representing the Lopez family.

Rogelio Lopez, his wife and child along with another relative live roughly 3 miles from the ITC tank farm.

Since the fire started last weekend and reignited at least twice thereafter, attorneys for the family said they were directly impacted.

"As they’re in the area, they're continuing to breath the air and experiencing the symptoms to where they start to feel sick," Roberts said.

The attorneys said the family not only got sick because of what happened, but they also had to seek medical attention as a result.

"Since the fire the family has experienced throat irritation, eye irritation and skin irritation. nausea and headaches," Roberts said.

The attorneys expect to file cases for other residents in the area as well.

"When there’s a release like this, when there’s a fire and the smoke plume, the wind blows every different which way. It’s really quite frightening because we’re not how many of our neighbors have been affected by this," Roberts said.

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