Lord Browne is ordered to testify in Texas refinery case

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The Independent Online

A Texas State Court yesterday ordered a deposition from BP CEO John Browne in litigation related to a fatal March 2005 accident at a Texas refinery.

The energy company is expected to appeal the ruling.

Judge Susan Criss of the 212th Judicial District in Galveston, Texas, ruled that Browne and BP global refining chief John Manzoni must give depositions in the case. The plaintiffs consist of about a dozen survivors and family members of workers who died in the 2005 explosion, said lead attorney Brent Coon.

BP is expected to appeal Monday's ruling through state courts, said Art Gonzalez, an attorney with Brent Coon & Associates.

"The court has ruled that both John Browne and John Manzoni have unique and superior knowledge," Gonzalez told Dow Jones Newswires. "She's ruled that they have to appear for depositions."

BP has broadly accepted responsibility for the calamity, which killed 15 and injured 170. The oil giant has reached settlements with many of the victims, but is fighting the case, which includes the plaintiffs claim that the accident resulted from "gross negligence" at BP.

BP has been fighting to restrict plaintiffs' access to Browne and other senior BP executives on the grounds that they don't have unique knowledge in the case. Coon earlier this month took a deposition of BP Global Refining Vice President Mike Hoffman.

A jury trial is scheduled to start on 18 September in Criss' courtroom in Galveston, about an hour south of Houston.