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Westmoreland Hall Maines & Lugrin Announces $8.37 Million Jury Verdict Following 2004 Houston-Area Warehouse Fire

March 1, 2010

HOUSTON, March 1 /PRNewswire/ — A Harris County jury has issued an $8.37 million jury verdict on behalf of Houston-based Control Solutions Inc. after finding that chemicals supplied by a manufacturer from India were the cause of a 2004 fire that destroyed the company’s warehouse and offices.

In the verdict issued late Friday, jurors in District Judge Dion Ramos’ 55th District Court found India-based chemical manufacturer Gharda Chemicals LTD and its U.S. subsidiary completely liable for the March 8, 2004, fire.

Control Solutions, a blender and packager of pesticides and other agricultural products, was represented by the Houston trial law firm Westmoreland Hall Maines & Lugrin, P.C., including Shareholder George H. Lugrin, IV and associate Jeffrey E. Fahys.

Evidence at trial showed that Gharda Chemicals sold Control Solutions contaminated drums of Chlorpyrifos Technical, a product used to make various pesticide products. Investigations following the fire showed that the chemicals were contaminated with a flammable solvent.

Shortly before the fire, the 32 drums of solid Chlorpyrifos were placed in a “hot box” in Control Solutions’ warehouse for melting based on procedures provided by Gharda Chemicals. At some point during the melting process, the contaminated Chlorpyrifos exploded and caught fire.

The fire quickly spread throughout the warehouse and Control Solutions’ nearby office building, destroying virtually everything inside. The Harris County Fire Marshall determined that the “hot box” was the source of the fire.

“This was a major fire that not only destroyed Control Solutions’ buildings, but also threatened the health and safety of the surrounding area,” says Mr. Lugrin. “We’re pleased that the jury has decided to hold Gharda Chemicals responsible, and hopefully companies now will think twice before selling products that put us all at danger.”

The jury found that Gharda Chemicals was negligent in manufacturing the contaminated chemical, and failed to adequately warn Control Solutions of the potential dangers. The verdict in the case, Control Solutions, et al. v. Gharda USA Inc. and Gharda Chemicals LTD., No. 2004-67993, includes more than $6.2 million based on damages to the buildings and their contents, as well as $2.1 million for environmental cleanup costs incurred by Control Solutions.

“There are few things worse than watching your buildings go up in smoke,” says Mark Boyd, president of Control Solutions. “We have worked extremely hard to rebuild and grow our company, and are looking forward to putting that terrible day completely behind us.”

Nearly 125 firefighters from Pasadena, Seabrook, Deer Park and La Porte responded to the fire, which took more than 11 hours to control. Because the warehouse stored various hazardous chemicals, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with state and local environmental officials, became involved in efforts to prevent groundwater containment and monitor air pollution. Control Solutions continued its business operations following the fire and has since rebuilt its production facilities and offices.

For more information on the verdict, please contact Alan Bentrup at 800-559-4534 or alan@androvett.com.

SOURCE Westmoreland Hall Maines & Lugrin


Source: newswire



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