Richmond considers hiring big law firm to sue Chevron

May 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The city of Richmond may take on Chevron. Tuesday night leaders discussed whether to hire a high-powered law firm to sue Chevron for the massive fire at the company's Richmond refinery.

The Chevron Richmond Refinery exploded and caught fire on Aug. 6, 2012. No workers were killed, but after a cloud of black smoke covered the East Bay and 15,000 residents went to local hospitals complaining of health problems. The city also claims stigma from the Chevron fire will affect property values and quality of life.

In a document provided to ABC7 News by the city attorney, Richmond says a lawsuit would "raise Chevron's awareness of widespread harm to the community... and the damage they inflict when they ignore repeated safety concerns."

The lawsuit would also compensate the community for its current and ongoing economic and environmental injuries and it would deter Chevron from similar behavior in the future.

"Chevron is not and has not been a good neighbor over this last period. The Chemical Safety Board has documented over this whole period that where there were important decisions to be made for safety, Chevron chose to ignore them and to move on to keep its profits flowing," said Richmond resident Michael Parker.

The Richmond City Council voted earlier to increase safety standards in its industrial safety laws. The Council also Tuesday night voted to remove city investments fossil fuel companies and that would include pension funds.

The issue they had not taken up by 11 p.m. was whether or not to hire the high-powered law firm of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy. That law firm is not unfamiliar with taking on big companies. They have represented families suing PG&E in the San Bruno explosion and BP in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. There was no dollar figure discussed with the Richmond case so far.


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