press release


This is news concerning Chevron but issued by someone other than Chevron and archived here for record purposes.

HOUSTON, March 2, 1999 — The Kennedy Heights lawsuit is expected to end without another trial, it was announced today by Mickey Mills, the Special Master appointed by U.S. District Judge David Hittner, on behalf of both parties, Chevron and the neighborhood residents.

"I've been working on this case for 20 months now, and based on the law and the scientific evidence, there is no indication that oil stored on the property in the 1920s ever posed a health or safety risk to the Kennedy Heights residents," said Mills. "There is no proof of harmful contamination in the soil, water, or air in Kennedy Heights and no connection between the residents' illnesses and the use of the land for crude oil storage 70 years ago. The drinking water for Kennedy Heights is, and always has been, provided by the City of Houston and test results conducted by the City of Houston show that the drinking water there is safe."

His investigation also showed that race was never a factor in Gulf-Chevron decisions about the Kennedy Heights property and its residents, Mills said. Gulf sold the land 30 years ago before homes were built there to the now-defunct Log Development Co., which knew that the property had been used for crude oil storage and determined that it was suitable for residential housing.

"Though Chevron has no legal obligation to do so," Mills added, "to resolve this lengthy and expensive case, the company has agreed to establish a settlement fund of approximately $8 million for distribution to the plaintiffs. I, as Special Master, will allocate the settlement fund to the plaintiffs, subject to the Court's approval and the execution by the parties of final settlement documents. The settlement fund is intended by Chevron to help Kennedy Heights residents whose property may have been devalued as a result of media attention to the case."

"Settlement will separately provide partial reimbursement for reasonable expenses incurred by plaintiffs' attorneys in the investigation of their claims and costs associated with administration of the settlements," said Mills, "but Chevron will not pay any money into the fund for any specific items of damages and no funds will be paid for attorney fees. The plaintiffs' attorneys have agreed to waive their fees in order for their clients to take advantage of this settlement opportunity.

"To date, the parties combined have spent more than $30 million in trying this case," said Mills. "It is a case that resulted in a mistrial while pending before U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt, and without settlement, continuation of this lawsuit and its likely appeals would increase both the costs for all concerned and the uncertainty for Kennedy Heights residents."

Mills said he experts the settlement to be finalized very soon.

Updated: March 1999