Ignorance is No Excuse

Published in CSP Daily News

Judge rules in BP's favor in $20 million lawsuit

By  Steve Holtz, Online News Director & Beverage Editor

TACOMA, Wash. -- BP West Coast Products LLC is off the hook in a $20-million lawsuit in which the major oil company was accused of fraud, fraud in a real-estate transaction and violating the Washington Gasoline Dealers Bill of Rights.

U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle entered a summary judgment in BP's favor on September 20, ruling that the plaintiff, Hatem M. Shalabi and his company, Pyramid Gold Inc., had not provided evidence that BP tried to defraud him in the sale of a gas station site in Tacoma, Wash., in 2004.

Shalabi claimed he was unable to resell the location five years later because of petroleum contamination in the soil and that BP had not disclosed the contamination issue at the time of the original deal.

Settle, however, ruled that Shalabi's "claims are based on the theory that they were ignorant to what the [property] agreements contained, but Washington courts have repeatedly rejected this theory," according to court documents obtained by CSP Daily News.

Shalabi originally filed the lawsuit again BP West Coast Products LLC, as well as Atlantic Richfield Co., BP Corp. North America Inc. and BP Products North America Inc. in early 2011. The BP companies, collectively the defendants, filed for summary judgment in August 2012.

Settle first ruled out all the defendants accept BP West Coast Products because they were not parties to the real-estate sales agreement. He then ruled in BP West Coast Products' favor, noting that BP did, in fact, provide an environmental assessment that detailed "precisely what contamination was discovered, where it was discovered and in what concentrations."

By Steve Holtz, Online News Director & Beverage Editor
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