People affected by Richmond refinery fire sue Chevron

  • This Aug. 7, 2012 file photo, white smoke rises from the Chevron refinery during a controlled burn, the morning after Monday's toxic fire in Richmond, Calif. Federal investigators probing the cause of a massive Chevron oil refinery fire are focusing on possible corrosion in a decades-old pipe the company inspected late last year but did not replace. Investigators with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board told The Associated Press on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, that the November inspection led Chevron to replace an old pipe connected to the one that failed Monday. (AP Photo/The Contra Costa Times, Laura A. Oda)

RICHMOND — Nine people have sued Chevron Corp. over a California refinery fire that sent thousands to hospitals with respiratory issues and contributed to higher gasoline prices on the West Coast.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Contra Costa County Superior Court claims Chevron was grossly negligent in its handling of refinery maintenance as well as emergency response to the blaze in Richmond.

The suit was filed by attorney John Burris and two colleagues on behalf of the nine people, including three children. The attorneys expect more plaintiffs to join the case and said a class-action suit is likely against Chevron.

"They had information at the very outset that the pipes that were in that area were old, subject to leaks and failed to take any action accordingly," Burris has said. "That was last year, 2011."

San Ramon-based Chevron said it will review the lawsuit.

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