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Bowling v. CITGO Petroleum Corp.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

November 28, 2018

PATRICK BOWLING, ET AL.
v.
CITGO PETROLEUM CORPORATION, ET AL. Plaintiff Medical expenses Pain and suffering Fear of developing disease Loss of enjoyment of life Total

          APPEAL FROM THE FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF CALCASIEU, NO. 2007-2604 HONORABLE SHARON D. WILSON, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Robert E. Landry Patrick D. Gallaugher Kevin P. Fontenot Scofield, Gerard, Pohorelsky, Gallaugher & Landry COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLANT: Citgo Petroleum Corporation

          Craig Isenberg Kyle W. Siegel Joshua O. Cox Barrasso Usdin Kupperman Freeman & Sarver, LLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT APPELLANT: Citgo Petroleum Corporation

          Wells T. Watson Jake D. Buford Baggett, McCall, Burgess, Watson & Gaughan COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES: Alton Young, Sammy Timpa, Corey Spikes, Robert Paggen, Patrick Bowling, Larry Martin, Michael Colletta, Terryl Lambright, Michael Crewell, Zachary Forsyth, Dustin Daigle, Chris Judice, Stephen L'Hoste, Richard McCoy

          Richard Elliott Wilson Somer G. Brown Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson, LLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES: Michael Crewell, Dustin Daigle, Chris Judice, Michael Colletta, Terryl Lambright, Patrick Bowling, Larry Martin, Stephen L'Hoste, Richard McCoy, Robert Paggen, Corey Spikes, Sammy Timpa, Zachary Forsyth, Alton Young

          Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, John D. Saunders, and Elizabeth A. Pickett, Judges.

          SYLVIA R. COOKS, JUDGE

         These appeals involve nine cases consolidated for trial, involving twenty-six individual plaintiffs. Defendant, CITGO Petroleum Corporation (CITGO), appeals the judgment of the trial court awarding damages to twenty-four plaintiffs impacted by CITGO's negligent release of slop oil into adjacent waterways and the air release of sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The facts giving rise to these lawsuits have been the subject of several appeals before this court and the Louisiana Supreme Court. See Arabie v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., 10-2605 (La. 3/3/12), 89 So.3d 307 (Arabie I); Arabie v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., 15-324 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/7/15), 175 So.3d 1180, writ denied, 15-2040 (La. 1/8/16), 184 So.3d 694 (Arabie II); Cormier v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., 17-104 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/4/17), 228 So.3d 770, writ denied, 17-2138 (La. 2/9/18), 237 So.3d 491; Bradford v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., 17-296 (La.App. 3 Cir. 1/10/18), 237 So.3d 648, writ denied, 18-272 (La. 5/11/18), 241 So.3d 314; Albarado v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., 17-823 (La.App. 3 Cir. 5/16/18), 247 So.3d 818; Fontenot v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., 17-924, 17-925 (La.App. 3 Cir. 5/23/18), 247 So.3d 837. In Bradford, 237 So.3d at 657-58, this court set out the operative facts as follows:

On June 19, 2006, following a local flash flood, CITGO's Calcasieu Parish Refinery released four million gallons of slop oil and seventeen million gallons of wastewater into the Calcasieu River, contaminating over 100 miles of coastline with toxic liquids and mousse-like substances that emitted toxic fumes in addition to being toxic upon contact. The spill was the result of the failure and overflow of CITGO's closed-system, waste-water treatment unit. The overflow was described as a catastrophic event and an environmental disaster by CITGO's own representatives. The clean-up of the spill lasted for approximately six months, from June to December, 2006.
CITGO's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on slop oil from March 2006 ranks it as a chronic health and fire hazard. The MSDS states that the oil is extremely flammable and poisonous, and it contains Hydrogen Sulfide (H sub2 S) gas which may be fatal if inhaled. It can enter the lungs and cause damage. It is harmful or fatal if swallowed. Slop oil contains above di minimus levels of benzene, a known cancer hazard which can cause leukemia and other blood disorders, H sub2 S, xylene, toluene, n-hexane, and ethylbenzene. Benzene, toluene, and xylene are volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are chemicals that evaporate from a solid or liquid form at room temperature; long-term exposure can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system; short-term exposure can cause eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, fatigue, loss of coordination, allergic skin reactions, nausea, and memory impairment. Pursuant to CITGO's MSDS, slop oil also contains hexane, heptane, octanes, nonane, and trimethylbenzenes. Slop oil and/or its components are listed on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) inventory.
Also on June 19, 2006, CITGO's steam lines became submerged and the facility released H sub2 S and sulfur dioxide (S02) from sixty stacks in illegal concentrations for a full day, approximately twelve hours. The wind was blowing from the southeast toward the north and northwest, then calming for parts of the day, allowing the toxic emissions to release into the surrounding community.

         CITGO stipulated to fault for causing both the release of the slop oil and the air release of sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. These nine consolidated cases proceeded to trial on the issue of causation and any amount of damages due for each of the twenty-six plaintiffs' symptoms as a result of exposure to either slop oil, the air release, or both. In all of the cases, a jury trial was waived and the damages of each plaintiff was limited to $50, 000.00.

         In docket number 18-169, the plaintiffs, Patrick Bowling, Michael Colletta, Michael Crewell, [1] Dustin Daigle, Zachary Forsyth, Chris Judice, Terryl Lambright, Stephen L'Hoste, Larry Martin, Richard McCoy, Robert Paggen, Corey Spikes, Sammy Timba, and Alton Young, were employees of Phoenix Electric working at the Calcasieu Refinery where they allege they were exposed to slop oil released by CITGO. In docket number 18-170, Donald Mouton and Ebony (Mouton) Jack claim they were cutting grass in the Carlyss area when they were exposed to the chemicals from the air release from the CITGO refinery. In docket number 18-171, Odelia Dowling[2] claims she was exposed to toxins when she delivered lunch to her daughter's fiancée at CITGO on June 20, 2006. In docket number 18-172, Ricky Matthews claims he was exposed to slop oil while at a family event on June 20, 2016, at the I-210 beach on the Calcasieu River north of the CITGO facility. In docket number 18-173, Leslie Mouton claims she was exposed to the air release when she took lunch to her nephew at Colonial Pipeline Company. In docket number 18-174, John Thibodeaux claims he was exposed to the air release while visiting friends at an apartment on Cities Service Highway in Sulphur. In docket number 18-175, Yvonne Glasgo claims she was exposed to slop oil while at the same I-210 beach Ricky Matthews was at on June 20, 2006. In docket number 18-176, Ellis Jack Jr. claims he was exposed to toxins released by CITGO while fishing in Calcasieu Lake on some unspecified date. In docket number 18-179, Albert Doucet Jr., Debra McZeal, Tommy Mumford, and John Smith claim they were exposed to toxins released by CITGO while working at the Louisiana Pigment Company in Sulphur, Louisiana.

         Following the trial, the trial court determined that each of the twenty-six plaintiffs had been exposed to the slop oil, to the chemicals from the air release, or to both. The trial court awarded damages in four categories. The trial court awarded medical expenses associated with the exposure, and three categories of general damages: pain and suffering, fear of developing future disease, and loss of enjoyment of life. The damages awarded to each plaintiff are set forth as follows:

Plaintiff
Medical expenses
Pain and suffering
Fear of developing disease
Loss of enjoyment of life
Total
Patrick Bowling

$ 350.00

$ 28, 000.00

$ -

$ 10, 000.00

$ 38, 350.00

Michael Colletta

$ 350.00

$ 21, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 5, 000.00

$ 36, 350.00

Michael Crewell

$ 350.00

$ 25, 000.00

$ -

$ 10, 000.00

$ 35, 350.00

Dustin Daigle

$ 350.00

$ 5, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 3, 500.00

$ 18, 850.00

Zachary Forsyth

$ 350.00

$ 4, 500.00

$ -

$ 3, 000.00

$ 7, 850.00

Chris Judice

$ 350.00

$ 13, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 5, 000.00

$ 28, 350.00

Terryl Lambright

$ 350.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 3, 500.00

$ 23, 850.00

Stephen L'Hoste

$ 350.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 15, 000.00

$ 12, 500.00

$ 37, 850.00

Larry Martin

$ 416.00

$ 7, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 4, 000.00

$ 21, 416.00

Richard McCoy

$ 537.00

$ 28, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 48, 537.00

Robert Paggen

$ 350.00

$ 21, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 5, 000.00

$ 36, 350.00

Corey Spikes

$ 200.00

$ 7, 500.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 3, 500.00

$ 21, 200.00

Sammy Timpa

$ 350.00

$ 28, 000.00

$ 15, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 53, 350.00

Alton Young

$ 350.00

$ 28, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 48, 350.00

Donald Mouton

$ 200.00

$ 5, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 3, 500.00

$ 18, 700.00

Ebony (Mouton) Jack

$ 200.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 5, 000.00

$ 25, 200.00

Odelia Dowling

$ 200.00

$ 8, 000.00

$ -

$ 5, 000.00

$ 13, 200.00

Ricky Matthews

$ 732.00

$ 25, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 45, 732.00

Leslie Mouton

$ 305.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 3, 500.00

$ 23, 805.00

John Thibodeaux

$ 200.00

$ 8, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 5, 000.00

$ 23, 200.00

Yvonnie Glasgo

$ 425.00

$ 8, 500.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 5, 000.00

$ 23, 925.00

Ellis Jack, Jr.

$ 200.00

$ 15, 000.00

$ 7, 500.00

$ 5, 000.00

$ 27, 700.00

Albert Doucet, Jr.

$ 450.00

$ 20, 000.00

$ 7, 500.00

$ 7, 500.00

$ 35, 450.00

Debra McZeal

$ 350.00

$ 28, 000.00

$ -

$ 10, 000.00

$ 38, 350.00

Tommy Mumford

$ 200.00

$ 15, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 5, 000.00

$ 30, 200.00

John D. Smith

$ 459.00

$ 25, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 10, 000.00

$ 45, 459.00

         Mr. Timpa's damages were reduced to $50, 000.00 pursuant to the damages cap stipulated to prior to trial.

         CITGO has timely appealed the judgment of the trial court, asserting the following assignments of error:

1. The district court erred in finding that nine of the plaintiffs [Albert Doucet, Odelia Dowling, Yvonne Glasgo, Ellis Jack, Ricky Matthews, Leslie Mouton, Debra McZeal, Tommy Mumford, and John Smith] proved causation, because they failed to present expert testimony or other objective evidence that they were exposed to chemicals released by CITGO. Plaintiffs' lay testimony about detecting an odor or seeing an oily substance in the water, and then experiencing common symptoms such as headaches or sinus congestion, is insufficient to establish exposure without expert testimony showing that they were in fact exposed to CITGO's chemicals.
2. The district court erred in awarding damages for fear of developing disease to eleven plaintiffs [Albert Doucet, Yvonne Glasgo, Ellis Jack, Ricky Matthews, Tommy Mumford, John Smith, Donald Mouton, Ebony Mouton Jack, John Thibodeaux, and Michael Colletta]. Under Louisiana law, a plaintiff must prove that his exposure placed his future health at risk to recover for fears about his future health. Seven plaintiffs failed to prove exposure at all - much less risk of future health problems related to an exposure - and three failed to prove exposure to any substance that possibly could cause future health problems. Thus, their awards for future health concerns were erroneous. An additional plaintiff, Michael Colletta, received an award based on fears about future health even though he gave no testimony about any such fears at trial. His award should be reversed as well.
3. The district court erred in awarding damages for lost enjoyment of life to twenty-four of the twenty-six plaintiffs [all except Terryl Lambright and Stephen L'Hoste] because they did not testify or offer any other evidence about whether and how their quality of life diminished because of their alleged exposure-related injuries.

         ANALYSIS

         Standard of Review

         This court in Bradford, 237 So.3d at 657-58, discussed the applicable standard of review herein:

An appellate court may not set aside a trial court's findings of fact in the absence of manifest error or unless it is clearly wrong. Stobart v. State, Through DOTD, 617 So.2d 880 (La.1993); Rosell v. ESCO, 549 So.2d 840 (La.1989). A two-tiered test must be applied in order to reverse the findings of the trial court: (a) the appellate court must find from the record that a reasonable factual basis does not exist for the finding of the trial court; and (b) the appellate court must further determine that the record establishes that the finding of the trial court is clearly wrong (manifestly erroneous). Mart v. Hill, 505 So.2d 1120 (La.1987).
Even where the appellate court believes its inferences are more reasonable than the fact finders, reasonable determinations and inferences of fact should not be disturbed on appeal. Arceneaux v. Domingue, 365 So.2d 1330 (La.1978). Additionally, a reviewing court must keep in mind that if a trial court's findings are reasonable based upon the entire record and evidence, an appellate court may not reverse said findings even if it is convinced that had it been sitting as trier of fact it would have weighed that evidence differently. Housely v. Cerise, 579 So.2d 973 (La.1991). The basis for this principle of review is grounded not only upon the better capacity of the trial court to evaluate live witnesses, but also upon the proper allocation of trial and appellate functions between the respective courts. Canter v. Koehring Co., 283 So.2d 716 (La.1973).

         I. Causation

         In a personal injury suit, a plaintiff has the burden of proving causation by a preponderance of the evidence. Maranto v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 94-2603 (La. 2/20/95), 650 So.2d 757. The test for determining a causal relationship between an accident and injury is whether the plaintiff proved through medical testimony that it is more probable than not that the subsequent injuries were caused by the accident. Maranto, 650 So.2d 757. CITGO argues that nine plaintiffs failed to prove that their injuries were caused by exposure to either slop oil or the air release. In addition to specific arguments about each of the nine plaintiffs, CITGO re-urges the argument it made unsuccessfully in Bradford, 237 So.3d 648, namely that expert testimony is required to prove both general causation and specific causation in a toxic tort case. CITGO, in its brief, acknowledges "a panel of the Third Circuit rejected CITGO's appeal based on this same issue in [Bradford], CITGO believes this determination was in error and has submitted a writ application to the Supreme Court, which remains pending at the time of the filing of this brief." The supreme court has since denied the writ application taken on our ruling in Bradford. Bradford v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., 18-272 (La. 5/11/18), 241 So.3d 314. Thus, this court has determined that while expert testimony is required to prove causation, it is sufficient that there is expert testimony to prove general causation and medical testimony to establish specific causation. Keeping in mind these principals, we must evaluate whether each of the nine plaintiffs CITGO complains of in its first assignment of error met their burden of proof to establish causation.

         CITGO does not dispute the same exposure evidence was submitted in this case as in Bradford. The facts indicated the dangers of the oil spill did not evaporate within twenty-four hours of June 19, nor did they abate at any time during the period that the current plaintiffs assert exposure. While some of the plaintiffs could not recall the exact date of their exposures, the record contains circumstantial evidence that tied their exposures to the subject spills. Moreover, we also find wholly without merit any inference by CITGO that any Plaintiff's failure to immediately seek medical treatment and/or continue working after any alleged exposure should be held against them. It is unrefuted that CITGO told the community the released chemicals did not pose any immediate health risk, thus inferring no immediate medical attention was necessary. We addressed this argument in one of the earlier cases, stating as follows:

This court in Anthony [v. Georgia Gulf Lake Charles, LLC, 13-236, p. 8 (La.App. 3 Cir. 5/21/14)], 146 So.3d at 253-54, addressed a similar argument concerning an alleged failure to timely seek medical care after a declaration by the defendant tortfeasor that such medical care was not required:
As to Georgia Gulf's argument that many of the plaintiffs' damages awards should reflect a failure to timely seek medical attention, plaintiffs note the respective trial judges in Anthony, Billiot and Brown I rejected this argument because it found Georgia Gulf failed to adequately inform the public of the nature of the chemicals released. . . .
Thus, we find the respective trial judges in this consolidated appeal had ample support for disregarding Georgia Gulf's argument that many plaintiffs were lax in seeking medical attention in the days following the exposure.
We find a similar situation occurred in the present case, and find the trial court did not err in disregarding CITGO's arguments that Plaintiffs should be penalized for any alleged failure to seek medical attention in the days and weeks following the exposure.

Arabie, 175 So.3d at 1186.

         As in the numerous prior cases involving the slop oil and air release from the CITGO refinery, the plaintiffs presented Dr. Barry Levy, an occupational and environmental health physician and epidemiologist with thirty-five years of experience, who testified via deposition to establish general causation in this case. As noted by this court previously, "Dr. Levy has clinically evaluated thousands of individuals who had developed, or were at risk of developing, a wide range of adverse health effects as a result of environmental and/or occupational exposure to chemical substances." Bradford, 237 So.3d at 661. Also testifying via deposition was Frank M. Parker, III, a Certified Industrial Hygienist, who has published numerous articles on industrial hygiene, toxic exposure, health and safety. Lastly, Plaintiffs offered the testimony of Dr. Steve Springer, a board-certified physician in Family Practice, who has seen and treated hundreds of chemical exposure patients.

         Mr. Parker testified slop oil was released from the CITGO refinery on June 19, 2006 and contaminated the Calcasieu River coastline all the way to Big Lake. Many of these plaintiffs described in their testimony a sheen or colorful rings in the water and stated they smelled a foul odor. As Plaintiffs note, CITGO has produced no lay or expert testimony to refute Mr. Parker's testimony that placed hazardous chemicals where a sheen or mousse-like substance accumulated as a result of the release. We will examine the causation determinations for each plaintiff CITGO disputes.

         The Louisiana Pigment Employees

         Albert Doucet, Debra Ann McZeal, Tommy Mumford, and John Smith were employees of Louisiana Pigment Company on June 19, 2006. It was alleged they were exposed while working that day. Louisiana Pigment Company is located to the northeast of the CITGO plant. It is approximately two miles from the CITGO refinery and a half mile from the Calcasieu Ship Channel, which was contaminated with slop oil.

         Mr. Doucet testified he remembered a "strong smell" during the day in question. He further testified he and several of his co-workers "were looking around to make sure it wasn't nothing from us and then some people in management came out and said it was a release from CITGO." Mr. Doucet testified he had immediate burning of his eyes and nausea. He stated in the days that followed he suffered from burning in his throat, itching, headaches and sinus problems. Dr. Springer testified that Mr. Doucet suffered several days of eye pain, sore throat, nausea, and sinus irritation from exposure to chemicals, and approximately seven months of increased headaches related to exposure of either slop oil or hydrogen sulfide.

         Ms. McZeal testified on June 19, 2006, she noticed a "different smell" after which her "[e]yes started burning, her throat started hurting, [and she] got nauseated." She testified she sought treatment with Dr. Springer for those symptoms. She stated she continues to suffer from sinus problems, which she had never experienced prior to that day. Dr. Springer testified that in his medical opinion, one to two days of nausea, sore throat, and eye burning, and nine months of headaches, sinus congestion, and pain related to sinus congestion were caused by Ms. McZeal's exposure to chemicals from CITGO.

         Tommy Mumford testified he was working at Louisiana Pigment on June 6, 2006. He stated he noticed a "distinct smell" that was a "little different." Similar to Mr. Doucet's testimony, he and his co-workers immediately began to investigate if the smell was coming from anything at Louisiana Pigment. He testified he immediately suffered some eye irritation, nausea and sinus problems. He later began suffering from persistent headaches. Dr. Springer testified that he believed Mr. Mumford suffered several days of nausea, nosebleeds, and other sinus issues and more than three months of headaches as a result of exposure to chemicals released by CITGO.

         John Smith was also working at Louisiana Pigment on June 19, 2006. Mr. Smith remembered everyone that day talking about the smell in the air and the subsequent realization concerning the chemical release from CITGO. Mr. Smith testified he suffered from eye irritation, nausea and diarrhea. Dr. Springer testified that, in addition to three days of diarrhea and one to two days of nosebleed and eye irritation, Mr. Smith suffered nine months of skin irritation as a result of exposure.

         In support of its argument that the Louisiana Pigment plaintiffs failed to prove exposure, CITGO points to testimony from Mr. Parker that for most of the day the wind was blowing to the northwest and away from Louisiana Pigment. However, CITGO acknowledges in brief that the wind shifted to the northeast in the afternoon, which supports the Louisiana Pigment plaintiffs' claims that they were exposed. These Louisiana Pigment employees testified they smelled the strong odor in the afternoon. Although CITGO argues in brief that "none of the plaintiffs testified that they detected any odor or began having any symptoms in the late afternoon," this simply ignores the testimony of Albert Doucet (who stated specifically he noticed the "strong smell" sometime "during the day" and immediately his eyes began to water and he felt nauseous), Debra Ann McZeal (that she noticed a "different smell" and immediately her "[e]yes started burning, her throat started hurting, [and she] got nauseated) and Tommy Mumford (who noticed a "distinct smell" and began immediately suffering from eye irritation, nausea and sinus problems). Although John Smith did not specifically testify to recalling the foul odor, he remembered clearly everyone talking about the problems at CITGO, as well as testifying he began suffering from eye irritation, nausea and diarrhea.

         Plaintiffs also note in Bradford, this court upheld an award of damages to Clara Espree, who was east of Louisiana Pigment when she was found to have been exposed to the air release. While Ms. Espree's location is not in the trial court record before us, we can take notice that a prior panel of this court affirmed the same trial judge's finding of exposure to a plaintiff that was northeast of the CITGO plant, as were the Louisiana Pigment plaintiffs herein.

         We find no manifest error in the trial court's finding that each of the above plaintiffs, who were working at Louisiana Pigment on June 19, 2006, proved a causal link between their injuries and the exposure to the release of hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide from the CITGO refinery.

         We do note the evidence and testimony herein does not support the trial court's finding that Mr. Mumford and Mr. Smith were also exposed to the slop oil. Both plaintiffs testified they did not come in contact with any oil or see any oil, and the record establishes they were approximately one-half mile away from the water on that day. Thus, we reverse the trial court's finding that those two plaintiffs were exposed to slop oil.[3]

         Leslie Mouton

         Ms. Mouton testified she was exposed while bringing lunch to her nephew, James Warner, who was working that day at Colonial Pipeline, which was approximately one mile south of the CITGO refinery. Ms. Mouton testified, while at Colonial Pipeline, she noticed an "unbelievable" smell. She stated her eyes started burning and her throat began "tightening up." Ms. Mouton also testified she had to pass in front of the CITGO refinery on her way home from Colonial Pipeline. She suffered from shortness of breath, headaches and sinus problems for several months following the CITGO release, which Dr. Springer related to her exposure.

         CITGO argues that Ms. Mouton could not have been exposed because there is no evidence that the air release of hydrogen sulfide or sulfur dioxide reached the facilities at Colonial Pipeline. While Mr. Parker's testimony may not support Ms. Mouton's claim that she was exposed while at Colonial Pipeline, there is ample evidence in the record that the air release crossed Highway 108. There was no dispute that Ms. Mouton drove past the CITGO refinery on Highway 108 on her way home from Colonial Pipeline. Ms. Mouton even testified she recalled noticing much more activity at CITGO when she passed by the plant that day. Therefore, we find the record reasonably supports the trial court's finding of a causal link between Ms. Mouton's injuries and her exposure to the air release from the CITGO refinery.

         Yvonne Glasgo and Ricky Matthews

         Ms. Glasgo and Mr. Matthews were participating in a family event at the I-210 beach on June 20, 2006. This was the same family event for which five plaintiffs were awarded damages for exposure to slop oil, which was subsequently affirmed by this court in Bradford. The fact that five plaintiffs recovered damages in Bradford does not alone satisfy Ms. Glasgo and Mr. Matthew's burden of establishing they suffered injuries due to their alleged exposure at the I-210 beach, but it does establish that this court found the presence of slop oil on the date in question at the I-210 beach. While the Bradford court's finding as to causation is not binding on this court in this case for these plaintiffs, it is certainly persuasive. The date, time and location at question before us is identical to that before this court in Bradford.

         CITGO argues there was no credible evidence to establish the slop oil traveled the approximate three-mile distance upriver to the I-210 beach area. CITGO's reliance on the lack of any report of slop oil traveling that far upriver conveniently ignores that CITGO told its employees to stop trying to determine how far the slop oil went. The line of cases on this disaster reflect CITGO's dilatory behavior in its response to, and investigation of, the release of toxic chemicals into the surrounding community. It was not until 7:39 p.m. on June 23, 2018, four days after the disaster, that CITGO made its first public announcement of the crisis. Mr. Parker repeatedly opined on the failure of CITGO to warn the community as well as his belief CITGO's air monitoring data was inconsistent with first-hand observations obtained from fact witnesses as well as other documents provided by CITGO. See Arabie v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., 10-244 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/27/10), 49 So.3d 529, writ granted, 10-2605 (La. 2/4/11), 56 So.3d 981, aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 10-2605 (La. 3/13/12), 89 So.3d 307, wherein this court noted the trial court's finding of fraud on CITGO's part, CITGO's failure to warn the local populace of its existing MSDS on the spilled product, and CITGO's cognizant misinformation to government agencies of the status and capabilities of its facility.

         We find the testimony of the plaintiffs, which the trial court found credible, supports the finding of exposure to slop oil. Ms. Glasgo testified she was with the Richard family to celebrate the passing of one of her relatives. She testified while at the beach she started "smelling bad smells and noticed rainbows in the water and noticed that it was an oily substance on the water." Ms. Glasgo testified she had gone in the water on that date and began suffering from nausea and stomach pain. The record also established Ms. Glasgo went to the emergency room two days later for skin boils. She ultimately suffered from months of fatigue and sinus problems. Dr. Springer related her injuries to exposure to slop oil.

         Mr. Matthews was also with the Richard Family that day. He testified "a sheen came over the water and it was kind of shiny, different colors . . . and it was a smell, an oily smell." Mr. Matthews noted he and others were standing in the water fishing. He also stated they ate several of the fish they caught that day. He testified he began suffering from stomach problems and headaches, which became on "ongoing type situation." He also experienced shortness of breath, depression, ...


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