Occasionally, a famous case will find itself tried in the court of public opinion before a verdict can be rendered in a court of law. But thanks to efforts on behalf of workers who lost their lives or were injured in last yearâ€™s explosion at the BP PLC oil refinery in Texas City, Texas, the public now has an unprecedented access to a specific case.
IBCTV LLC, an online video broadcasting company based in Chicago, in partnership with the law firm representing one worker killed in the explosion, has launched a Web site providing live trial coverage and access to taped depositions and documents presented during the proceedings of one case surrounding the March 23, 2005, explosion, which took the lives of 15 BP workers and injured hundreds more.
The multimillion dollar suit, filed by Brent Coon of Coon & Associates on behalf of explosion victim Eva Rowe, alleges that BP Amoco operated its Texas City plant â€œwith gross negligence, violating federal, state, industry, and even its own safety standards.â€ Jury selection for the trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 8.
Among a number of other features, the Web site allows visitors to interact directly with lawyers for the plaintiff. Although the site is biased toward the plaintiffâ€™s side of the case, safety professionals can use these features to gain a unique insight into the proceedings of a safety-related lawsuit. Moreover, the site may serve as a warning to companies as to how new forms of media can quickly enter a corporate affair into the realm of public knowledge.