HOUSTON (CN) – BP burned surface oil from its Deepwater Horizon spill near the Florida Panhandle, causing a family of four to develop “blinding headaches, sore throats, burning eyes, uncontrollable vomiting, coughing, dizziness, loss of appetite, and blurred vision,” the father claims in Harris County Court.
Charles Smith claims that 10 days after BP’s Deepwater Horizon exploded and burned, BP began conducting controlled burns of surface oil from the spill near his home in Navarre Beach, Fla.
By the next day, town residents noticed a “potent odor enveloping” their community, Smith says.
“Defendants’ representatives held a town hall meeting along with the Florida EPA and provided assurance that the smell was not harmful and presented no danger to the community, the plaintiff or his family,” Smith says.
But when Smith, his wife, his 6-year-old son, and 8-month old daughter became ill, he called BP’s “emergency response line and was told there was no evacuation orders in effect for the Navarre Beach area,” according to the complaint.
Smith pulled his son out of school the next day, packed his family’s belongings, and arranged for them to stay with grandparents in California, he says.
“On May 14, 2010 plaintiff arrived in California, having incurred travel and relocation expenses in excess of $7,000,” says Smith, who claims he felt ill throughout the trip from his exposure to fumes from BP’s oil burning.
His symptoms did not go away in the next 2 months, he says.
“On July 3, 2010 he felt a sudden and excruciating pain in his left ear along with numbness and loss of control of his facial muscles,” Smith says. “Fearing he was suffering a stroke [he] sought immediate medical care.”
Smith was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy “which likely resulted from an acute reaction to toxic chemical exposure” from BP’s oil burning, he says.
Smith claims that BP failed to warn residents about the dangers of exposure to toxic fumes from its clean-up efforts. He demands lost wages, expenses and punitive damages for negligence, gross negligence, willful conduct and pain and suffering.
Smith is represented by Jason Itkin of Houston.