The judge in a petroleum exposure case will allow a jury to decide whether a gas station operator and its environmental consultant recklessly failed to inform a plumber of the risks of working in an excavated pit with a documented petroleum release. See Marino v. Pilot Travel Centers LLC, 14-cv-04672 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 3, 2015).
Defendant Pilot Travel Centers, LLC (“Pilot”) operates a Flying J Travel Plaza in New Milford, Pennsylvania, where Pilot discovered a release from its diesel fuel storage and dispensing system. Pilot hired Co-Defendant Sovereign Consulting, Inc. (“Sovereign”) to investigate and remediate the release. During remediation, a water supply line was damaged, and Plaintiff was hired to repair it. Plaintiff alleges injuries stemming from exposure to petroleum products in the excavated pit.
Defendants moved for summary judgment on the issue of punitive damages, arguing that there was no evidence of evil motive or reckless indifference to Plaintiff’s exposure to petroleum products. The Court denied the motion, finding that the record contained evidence showing that Defendants knew there were petroleum liquids in the area where Plaintiff would be working, but no one told Plaintiff of the contamination or to stop working. From those facts, the Court found, a reasonable jury could conclude that Defendants behaved recklessly.