A federal jury on Friday ordered British Petroleum to pay Wichita-based Flint Hills Resources $41.7 million in damages for breach of contract. The case centered on BP selling a damaged Joliet, Ill., plant to Flint Hills in 2004.
London-based BP said it will appeal the decision, which culminated a two-month trial.
"We're pleased with the jury's decision," said Marc Palazzo, Flint Hills' vice president for public affairs. "It reaffirms our position on BP's breach of contract."
Palazzo declined to comment on BP's planned appeal.
The jury cleared BP of fraud allegations in connection with how much the plant could produce.
Flint Hills claimed in the 2005 suit that BP misrepresented the state of the facility before selling it to the company in 2004.
According to the suit, after the plant was sold, wastewater poured out of a broken sewer line and corroded tanks leaked acid and other chemicals. BP hid these and other alleged safety, environment and operational problems from the company, the suit alleged.
The suit followed a spate of incidents at BP facilities, including a deadly blast at a Texas refinery in 2005, a pipeline spill in Alaska in March 2006 and the partial shutdown of that oil field later that year after corroded transit lines were discovered.
Flint Hills bought the plant for $225 million in May 2004. The suit sought $100 million in damages.
"The plant that British Petroleum promised was not the plant that Flint Hills got," the company said in the suit. In a statement Friday, Flint Hills spokesman Jake Reint said that since purchasing the plant, Flint Hills has worked diligently to correct deficiencies at the plant.
"Maintaining the highest level of environment, health and safety compliance is a priority for our company," he said.
BP said in a statement that the company was pleased that the jury agreed that BP did not commit fraud. "We continue to believe that BP did not breach its sales agreement and that the damages are unsupported," the company said in an e-mailed statement.
BP has argued in court documents that it performed due diligence in its inspections of the plant before selling it to Flint Hills.