The Ferguson Law Firm has filed a class action suit and temporary restraining order in response to the TPC plant explosion that rocked Jefferson County during the early morning hours of November 27, 2019. A second explosion rocked the area later that afternoon. Residents have evacuated the area while Orange County executed a “shelter in place” order. Plumes of dark, black smoke continue to flow from the TPC plant in Port Neches – formerly the Neches Butane plant.
Chip Ferguson, managing partner of Beaumont’s The Ferguson Law Firm, said, “We were taking phone calls before the sun came up from friends who had been affected by the explosion. These people were asleep, had their windows blown in, and looked outside to see the sky engulfed in flames. Hot metal was raining down, they were scared, and many loaded up their family to escape the danger. They have young children and one can only imagine the terror they felt.”
The law firm’s filings are designed to preserve evidence and protect the citizens affected. First, the firm has obtained a Temporary Restraining Order to preserve the explosion site. “The people deserve answers and the answers lie in the scorched rubble inside the TPC plant. We need those answers and the citizens affected deserve those answers. That’s why we did this immediately – to protect them,” Ferguson said. Second, the firm filed a class action lawsuit. “The temporary restraining order is time-limited. The class action provides ongoing protection for the entire community. Besides the imploded homes and structures, the explosion released a number of dangerous chemicals, including butadiene and raffinate and we are requesting medical care and monitoring for all affected citizens.”
TPC has already acknowledged public responsibility for the damage to the area’s homes. “Our real concern – and the reason for our filing – is the health and well-being of the people caught up in this tragedy. That’s the serious business here and that is what sets us apart in what we are doing. We know other law firms are working on the property damage only – that’s the easy party. We’re doing it all with our primary focus on the health of the men, women and children. There is no greater risk than that.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), butadiene can have both immediate and long-term effects. “Immediately, people can have irritation or damage to their eyes, lungs and respiratory system. The long-term effects are more damaging. It includes various heart diseases, cancers and blood diseases.” The EPA states that butadiene exposure can result in an increase in cardiovascular diseases, such as rheumatic and arteriosclerotic heart diseases, while other human studies have reported effects on the blood. This includes leukemias and other respiratory, bladder and stomach cancers. Other studies have linked reproductive damage such as fetal skeletal abnormalities and decreased fetal weight, and ovarian and testicular atrophy.
Ferguson added, “This is a very dangerous chemical. It has shrouded the entire area and put so many of our friends and family at a serious health risk. Houses can be rebuilt – one’s health cannot. That is what we are most concerned about.” The firm’s commitment to this effort is demonstrated as four of the law firm’s partners (Mr. Ferguson, Jane Leger, Mark Sparks and Cody Dishon) have all signed off on the filings. “Since before sun-up, we have had every lawyer in our offices working on this. It is the reason for our existence,” Ferguson said.
The Ferguson Law Firm has a long tradition of representing victims of industrial explosions. Their attorneys have represented victims of such incidents across the country including a $66 million award from one plant explosion and a $38 million settlement in another. Ferguson Law partner Jane Leger obtained Texas’ top verdict in a work place safety case in 2018. “This is what we do,” Ferguson added. “And we do it well. We will do the same here.”