TPC Group files for bankruptcy with thousands still awaiting payouts; attorney Brent Coon responds

Published 3:39 pm Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Mere hours after TPC Group announced it filed for bankruptcy protection in a Delaware courtroom, Beaumont attorney Brent Coon held a news conference to explain how his firm would continue working to recuperate funds for more than 1,000 Southeast Texans who filed claims against the chemical plant.

Coon said lawsuits filed against the company also included other groups affiliated with TPC, such as engineering firms and chemical companies.

A large number of Coon’s clients still have damage and unpaid medical bills and have yet to receive any compensation, he said.

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“After the explosion occurred, TPC initially set up a compensation program to pay property owners… that program lasted a couple of months, then TPC quit that program,” he said. “The reason they quit the compensation program was because they ran out of the money to do so.”

Payouts began soon after a “major loss of containment” of butadiene produced a vapor cloud that ignited at 12:56 a.m. Nov. 27, 2019. The explosion caused damage to homes, schools and other structures in the immediate area, with debris as far as Bridge City. A second explosion the following day forced a mandatory evacuation for a four-mile radius.

Coon said his firm has been looking over TPC’s financial records for a while, and also has been working with procure bankruptcy counsel for more than a year in the event TPC filed for bankruptcy.

The company, he said, filed “thousands of thousands of pages of documents” requesting relief. That, he added, meant TPC would still be setting aside “huge amounts of money” for ongoing operations and business relationships.

TPC released a statement soon after the bankruptcy announcement saying unprecedented events such as COVID-19, supply chain issues, higher energy costs and Winter Storm Uri caused financial strain. The 2019 explosion was also cited.

“We have been working diligently to address the impacts of these events in close coordination with our financial stakeholders to consider the best path forward for our business and our stakeholders to ensure we strengthen our capital structure and position us to be a stronger, more competitive business, setting us up for long-term success and future growth opportunities,” the company said in the statement.

“To that end, today, TPC Group took the next step in our journey to secure a stronger financial future by filing for voluntary protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to begin the transformational recapitalization of our business. This process will allow us to expand upon the progress we’ve already made as we work to put TPC Group on the path to sustained, profitable growth and achieve the potential we know our business has with an appropriate underlying financial structure.”

TPC said the action will allow for “stronger business” in the future.

“TPC Group is dedicated to continually improving all aspects of our operations and driving our environmental performance to meet or exceed regulatory requirements and industry practice,” the statement said. “Our commitment to community, being a good neighbor, and operating safely and in an environmentally sound manner is unwavering.”

Coon disagreed.

“TPC hasn’t been good to our community,” he said. “They abandoned our community.”