Calcasieu Parish District Court Decision

Ruling on Damages

This matter came before the Court for trial on the merits, which took place from August 19, 2013 to August 23, 2013, regarding claims for damages made by the 45 Plaintiffs whose names are listed further below, as a result of a chemical release and explosion on September 17, 2006 at a facility owned and operated by the Defendant, Georgia Gulf Lake Charles, LLC (Georgia Gulf). At the conclusion of the trial, the Court took the matter under advisement and gave the parties an opportunity to submit post-trial memoranda. The Court has carefully reviewed and considered the following in ruling on damages: all evidence submitted, including the testimony of all witnesses and the large volume of exhibits; and pre-trial and post-trial memoranda, including the statutory and case law submitted by the parties. The Court also has considered any and all credibility issues regarding causation of each Plaintiff’s claimed damages by the alleged exposure to the chemicals released prior to, during, and after the explosion at the Georgia Gulf facility on September 17, 2006. Calcasieu Parish District Court 

Further, this Court previously heard testimony and viewed evidence during the trial of 11 other Plaintiffs in April of 2012, wherein testimony and exhibits concerning the magnitude and details of the September 17, 2006 Georgia Gulf explosion where introduced into the record. The Court made factual findings in a written ruling and the parties hereto agreed that there would be no need to reintroduce that same evidence in this second trial. Therefore, this week long trial focused on damages only for the 45 plaintiffs named herein.

However, prior to discussing damages in the instant case, it’s appropriate for the Court to re-state some of the factual findings previously made regarding liability and causation, which were proven by a preponderance of the evidence: 1) Georgia Gulf made a deliberate and/or grossly negligent decision prior to, during and after, the explosion and resulting fire, to make sure that there was minimal, if any, air monitoring outside of the plant in the most populated and heavily traveled areas closest to the Georgia Gulf plant, which made it impossible for Plaintiffs, or anyone else, to determine the amount of the multiple hazardous chemicals to which the public may have been exposed. The only air monitoring performed off-site by Georgia Gulf was away from the more populated areas, which was performed by untrained employees who, in spite of their lack of training, obtained readings that were indicative of a high level of chemicals in the air. 2) That Georgia Gulf violated its own policies with regard to the lifting of the Shelter in Place. 3) That there is credible evidence to show that the hazardous chemicals released by Georgia Gulf were in the air outside of the plant, including the few air monitoring results obtained by Georgia Gulf. In support of its case, Georgia Gulf takes the position that, even with the on-site monitors showing levels of hazardous chemicals in the air that were many times what would be considered a safe level, it allowed many employees and on-site responders to be present without any protective gear, which would be a clear violation of Georgia Gulf s own safety policies and procedures. The fact that Georgia Gulf violated its own policies and put its employees and responders at risk for exposure is not persuasive to this Court. (4) Many of the Plaintiffs in this group of cases had pre-existing health problems that would make them more susceptible to injury as a result of exposure to hazardous chemicals from the Georgia Gulf release/explosion/fire.

With regard to the cases cited and relied upon by Georgia Gulf, particularly Howard v. Union Carbide C01p., 50 So. 3d 1251 (La. Sup. Ct. 2010), this Court recognizes that a much more benign chemical was involved than the ones involved in the current case, and that all chemical exposure cases are not equal. Many factors have to be considered, including the chemical(s) involved, the duration of exposure, the symptoms and duration of symptoms, treatment and objective findings, etc. Each case and each Plaintiff must be considered independently. The Court has considered all these factors in deciding each of the 45 cases presented.

The Court finds that the following Plaintiffs’ damages have been proven by a preponderance of the evidence to have been caused by the exposure to chemicals released by Georgia Gulf. Further, any amount of damages awarded takes into consideration the credibility determinations made by the Court as to severity and duration of symptoms complained of by the Plaintiffs, as well as, whether the exposure, more likely than not, aggravated any pre-existing conditions suffered by Plaintiffs. The following are general damages (which includes mental anguish where appropriate) and special damages awarded by the Court for each Plaintiff:

  1. Kimalee Guidry – $25,000 plus medical expenses of $854.87
  2. Kynna Guidry – $12,000 plus medical expenses of $1,075.51
  3. Ashlyn Stewart – $6,000 plus medical expenses of $399.00
  4. Curtis Alexander – $30,000 plus medical expenses of $1,021.00
  5. Philmer Johnson – $10,000 plus medical expenses of $353.00
  6. Craig Evans – $35,000 plus medical expenses of $802.09
  7. Donald Brown – $45,000 plus medical expenses of $950.00
  8. Justin Brown – $16,000 plus medical expenses of $273.25
  9. Tyrella Brown Bushnell – $20,000 plus medical expenses of $417.00
  10. Alexis Brown – $10,000 plus medical expenses of $648.74
  11. Bernadine Chapman – $35,000 plus medical expenses of $527.00
  12. Blake Chapman – $10,000 plus medical expenses of $900.00
  13. Kelsie Chapman – $1,500 plus medical expenses of $200.00
  14. Matthew Chapman – $1,500 plus medical expenses of $200.00
  15. Dustin Chapman – $1,500 plus medical expenses of $200.00
  16. Patricia Ellender – $50,000 plus medical expenses of $82.56
  17. Thomas Ellender – $25,000 plus medical expenses of $455.00
  18. Raymond Marcantel – $7,500 plus medical expenses of $817.89
  19. Tammy Stephenson – $2,500 plus medical expenses of $390.00
  20. Braylyn McZeal – $15,000 plus medical expenses of $200.00
  21. Chautoria McZeal – $10,000 plus medical expenses of $280.00
  22. Enigel Mczeal – $12,000 plus medical expenses of $200.00
  23. Barbara McZeal – $12,000 plus medical expenses of $200.00
  24. John Foreman – $750 plus medical expenses of $555.00
  25. Tracy McZeal – $7,500 plus medical expenses of $390.00
  26. Clifton Ford – $5,000 plus medical expenses of $612.00
  27. Ramona Roberts – $30,000 plus medical expenses of $1,152.87
  28. Joseph McGee – $10,000 plus medical expenses of $2,449 .25
  29. Austin McGee – $10,000 plus medical expenses of $417.00
  30. George McGee – $18,000 plus medical expenses of $911.42
  31. Seth McGee – $10,000 plus medical expenses of $217.65
  32. Wilford Bryant, – $750 plus medical expenses of $765.00
  33. Leona Brooks – $25,000 plus medical expenses of $807.00
  34. Anthony Spears – $30,000 plus medical expenses of $417.00
  35. Donna Spears – $35,000 plus medical expenses of $898.00
  36. Sonia Simpson – $3,000 plus medical expenses of $1,884.28
  37. Aiesha Ross – $45,000 plus medical expenses of $5,924.90
  38. Dedrickiera Landry – $7,500 plus medical expenses of $200.00
  39. Carolyn Price – $15,000 plus medical expenses of $390.00
  40. Clarence Price – $5,000 plus medical expenses of $635.00
  41. Calevene Duplichan – $25,000 plus medical expenses of $390.00
  42. Danny Duplichan – $12,500 plus medical expenses of $390.00
  43. Kevin Duplichan – $20,000 plus medical expenses of $1,317.85
  44. Ronald Langley – $15,000 plus medical expenses of $2,067.52
  45. Lois Taylor – $15,000 plus medical expenses of $1,511.74

Additionally, all Court Costs are assessed against the Defendant.  The Court will sign a formal Judgment when presented that is consistent with this ruling as set forth above.

Signed in Chambers in Lake Charles, Louisiana, this 30th day of May, 2014.



Calcasieu Parish District Court

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