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Missouri Jury awards woman's family $13.3 million in pollution case

Posted on Sep 15, 2005

Jury awards woman's family $13.3 million in pollution case Associated Press INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - BP Amoco on Tuesday was ordered to pay the family of a former Sugar Creek resident $13.3 million because of a rare blood disorder that killed her. Nancy Ryan lived within 500 feet of the former Amoco oil refinery in Sugar Creek for four years before she moved to Independence. She died in November, and her family claimed that benzene from petroleum products that had leaked into the ground and surface water was the cause. It was the first of 25 lawsuits filed by attorney Lon Waters on behalf of families against BP Corp. of North America Inc. All the plaintiffs represented by Waters - some of whom are still alive - have suffered some sort of leukemia or lymphoma. Ryan's husband, Leonard, said the verdict doesn't make up for the loss of his wife, but it does hold the company accountable for her death. "She truly believed the refinery was the cause of her death, or she never would have filed it if she didn't," Leonard Ryan said. Ryan, who was 69 when she died, had lived in Sugar Creek from 1956 to 1960. BP Amoco's lawyers had argued that scientific evidence showed no link between the oil refinery and Ryan's blood disease. Defense attorney Wayne Taff said Ryan lived past the average life expectancy of someone with the type of blood disorder that Ryan had. BP Amoco spokesman Ron Rybarczyk said the company hadn't decided what its next steps would be in the case, though it could appeal. "We're disappointed with the conclusion," Rybarczyk said. "We respect the jury's decision, but we strongly disagree with it. The verdict is not supported by the evidence."

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