Mother sues BP over baby's death

August 19, 2010 4:54:12 PM PDT
A mother is suing BP, saying dangerous fumes from its Texas City plant led to the death of her baby. She says there is a hole left in her heart, one that will never be filled, and she blames BP and wants them to be punished. Julius Provost was born healthy. He died when he was just 6 months old after suffering for months. His mother says doctors weren't sure what were causing his symptoms.

"The nausea, the runny nose, the mucus in his eyes, the difficulty breathing," said Sharon Champion.

She says Julius died in June.

"I'm never gonna have closure. I think about my son all day, every day. You don't know how happy he made my day," said Champion.

Julius was staying at Champion's sister's home while his mother worked, just a mile from BP's Texas City refinery, the very location where there was a 40-day release of benzene in April and May.

The lawsuit filed is the latest in a string of claims resulting from that release. They call for BP to be punished by $10 billion in punitive damages. The suit claims the case demonstrates "the human suffering caused when the drive for corporate profits is more valued than the safety and lives of people."

"My son was taken from me because of BP," Champion said. "I don't care what nobody says -- I feel like they are the reason why my baby is not here."

Champion says BP hid the fact that the chemical was being released. Her attorney says there were actually 24 releases from the BP facility in the first six months of this year. Had she known this was going on, and that her child might be suffering from it, Champion says her baby may not have died.

"It's not right. They're wrong for that. They could have informed us, and I could have took my son to the hospital," said Champion.

A BP spokesperson would say only this today, "We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of a child in our community. Given the circumstances, we will not have further comment on this lawsuit."

One of the biggest hurdles Champion and her attorney may have to face in this case is the conclusions of the medical examiner, which determined the infant's cause of death to be "undetermined."

Just last week, BP agreed to pay a record $50 million fine for failing to correct safety hazards at its Texas City refinery after the 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers. BP is contesting $30 million for other penalties.


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