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$1.07M for Leak Damage

New Jersey Law Journal, September 30, 2002

Bayway Refining Co. v. Optimus Co.: A Union County jury ordered a plant inspector to pay $1.07 million to the Bayway Refinery in Linden to compensate for a steam leak that caused a 10-day shutdown of the plant. But a judge molded the award to $482,164 after giving credit for a settlement with another defendant.

The jury verdict and molded award were issued on Aug. 23, in a suit by Tosco Corp. of Old Greenwich, Conn., and its subsidiary, Bayway Refining Corp. The plaintiffs sued in 2000 against three companies in connection with the 1994 leak. The suit claimed that Optimus Co. of Tulsa, Okla., was negligent when it used the wrong size bracket to install a heat-recovery unit, resulting in the leak. The suit also named Helm Inspection Service of Tulsa and Travelers Insurance Co. of Hartford, Conn., the carrier for Optimus. Optimus agreed last month to pay $585,000 to settle the claims against it and Travelers.

During the trial before Judge Thomas Lyons, the jury found Helm liable and assessed damages of $1.07 million, the amount Bayway sought for losses for the plant shutdown. Lyons molded the jury verdict against Helm, however, to $482,164, after giving it credit for the $585,000 paid by Optimus.

Tosco and Bayway were represented by partners John Carlin Jr. and Arthur Warden III of Carlin, Ward, Ash & Heiart LLC in Florham Park. Helm was represented by Scotch Plains solo practitioner Kenneth Aron. Optimus was represented by Warren Farrell, an associate in the Jersey City firm headed by James Butler. Travelers was represented by John Tinker of Leary, Bride, Tinker & Moran in Cedar Knolls.

Aron and Tinker confirm the settlement but decline further comment. Farrell did not return calls.

– By Charles Toutant

Vol. CLXIX – No. 14 – Index 1330
September 30. 2002

This article is reprinted with permission from the SEPTEMBER 30, 2002 issue of the New Jersey Law Journal. ©2002 NLP IP Company. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. All rights reserved.