14 Jul Baggett McCall Wins Important Evidence Ruling in Citgo Petroleum Case
The 14th District Court in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana has made Citgo turn over previously concealed investigation documents related to its 2006 hazardous waste spill. The ruling occurred in the consolidated cases of Arabie et al vs. Citgo Petroleum and Biddy et al vs. Citgo Petroleum. The plaintiffs in the case were represented in part by Wells Watson and Jake Buford of Baggett McCall. In connection with the case, Citgo argued that certain documents relating to the spill and its aftermath were “privileged” and therefore not required to be turned over to the plaintiffs. Citgo argued that they could conduct a “privileged” investigation into the spill and hide that investigation from the public. The trial court granted plaintiffs’ motion that Citgo be required to produce the documents. Notable in the trial court’s ruling were his findings that “the Court has found a prior finding of civil fraud with regard to the handling of some of these documents … [and] unique to this case is the factual witnesses who were initially uncooperative with substantial time that’s gone by.” Plaintiffs have now received the documents. They reveal that Citgo was aware that high benzene levels existed in the aftermath of the spill and that a number of individuals had fallen ill as a result of exposure to chemicals released, facts that contradict Citgo’s earlier arguments in the cases. The District Court’s granting of the plaintiffs’ motion was approved by writ denial by both the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal and The Supreme Court of Louisiana. The trial court’s ruling is posted on the blog portion of the Baggett McCall website.
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