Hurricane Harvey-related criminal accusations against Arkema Inc. and its employees are scheduled to go to trial the week of February 17, 2020.
Visiting Judge Belinda Hill will preside for Harris County’s 339th District Court.
Quotes Regarding Upcoming Trial
Rusty Hardin, lawyer for Arkema Inc.:
“Harris County prosecutors are making an unprecedented and outrageous attempt to criminalize a natural disaster. They have filed charges trying to prosecute a company and its employees for the Act of God that was Hurricane Harvey. This is a political prosecution in search of a theory, and Harris County taxpayers will have to foot the bill for this very political attempt to stretch the meaning of our laws.”
Tim Johnson, lawyer for Arkema Inc. CEO Richard Rowe:
“Houston still has not recovered from Harvey’s flooding more than two years ago. The fact that prosecutors persist in trying to blame a company and its employees in criminal court for the ravages of this unprecedented storm should concern us all.”
The trial will combine two separate indictments relating to Hurricane Harvey.
1. One indictment alleges Arkema Inc. and two of its employees illegally caused an air pollution violation during Hurricane Harvey. This charge was made even though an Act of God is a legal defense to this charge.
The criminal charges are especially surprising since the U.S. Chemical Safety Board concluded that Arkema behaved responsibly. At the end of an eight-month investigation, the Chemical Safety Board noted that there were no regulatory or industry standards that existed that were applicable to Arkema’s unique situation, that Arkema’s actions were reasonable, that Arkema cooperated with the Unified Command, and that Hurricane Harvey was the most significant rainfall event in U.S. history, an Act of God never before seen in this country.
Lead lawyers for defense in pollution case #160031001010:
- Rusty Hardin - Arkema Inc.
- Tim Johnson - Richard Rowe, Arkema CEO
- Paul Nugent - Leslie Comardelle, former Arkema plant manager in Crosby
2. A second indictment charges Arkema Inc. and one of its employees with assault of a public servant even though the employee is based in Pennsylvania and remained there during the Arkema incident. His assault charge is based on his alleged misrepresentation of the chemicals present during Hurricane Harvey.
Defense lawyers could not find any precedent in Texas or around the country for charging someone with a physical assault in one state for allegedly misrepresenting information in another state.
Lead lawyers for defense in assault case #162762501010:
- Rusty Hardin - Arkema Inc.
- Dan Cogdell - Michael Keough, Arkema Inc. Retired Vice President of Logistics
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