Texas Fellow Benny Agosto, Jr. Obtains $28,591,000 Verdict Against ExxonMobil

On Friday, February 10th, 2023, the law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner obtained a jury verdict for $28,951,000.00 on behalf of five plant workers that were injured in an explosion that occurred at the ExxonMobil Baytown Olefins Plant on July 31, 2019.

The trial team consisted of LCA Senior Fellow Benny Agosto, Jr., along with attorneys Jonathan Sneed, Karl Long, Wady Rahbani- Chavez, and Victoria Haddad.

The explosion at ExxonMobil’s Baytown Olefins Plant occurred after a line ruptured due to buildup of an industrial byproduct called popcorn polymer. The forces of the blast destroyed the tower where the explosion occurred and created a fireball that measured approximately 900 feet tall, making it one of the largest industrial explosions ever seen on the Texas gulf coast.

The Abraham Watkins trial team presented evidence that ExxonMobil had known for decades that popcorn polymer was an extremely hazardous substance that could lead to loss of containment and large plant explosions. Despite this knowledge, however, evidence revealed that ExxonMobil did nothing to implement safety practices to avoid the explosion or reduce its chances of happening. Further, evidence revealed ExxonMobil withheld knowledge of these risks and never warned the plaintiffs, or any of the other plant workers that have filed lawsuits against the company for injuries suffered from the explosion.

At trial, and for the three-and-a-half years of litigation leading up to the plaintiffs’ day in court, ExxonMobil denied any responsibility for causing the explosion or their failure in reducing associated risks at the plant. ExxonMobil also disputed the injuries that each plaintiff suffered as a result of the explosion. After three weeks of trial, the jury returned a verdict finding ExxonMobil 100 percent responsible for causing the explosion and awarded $28,951,000.00 in damages to compensate the plaintiffs for their injuries.

This verdict follows a lengthy history of other environmental and safety-related violations charged against ExxonMobil in its operation of the Baytown Olefins Plant. Over the past ten years, OSHA has fined ExxonMobil’s Baytown complex for eight safety violations, seven of which were classified as serious. Other injuries at the Baytown complex reported from lawsuits filed in Harris County against the company over the last decade range from Benzene exposure to electrocutions, as well as several others suffering multiple injuries during explosions and fire evacuations.

For questions regarding the lawsuit or interview requests, please contact Geoffrey Adkinson at gadkinson@awtxlaw.com.