Missouri judge enters $10 million verdict against KCP&L

A Missouri judge has awarded more than $10 million to a worker who developed respiratory problems while working at a KCP&L facility.

The judge in Henry County Circuit Court ruled in favor of James Philpott, who had developed a form of asthma while working at the Montrose Station coal-fired power plant in Clinton, Mo.

While working as a journeyman mechanic at the plant, Philpott was exposed to sulfur and sulfur compounds, which resulted in his being diagnosed with asthma in 2012, according to his lawyers from the Independence law firm of Humphrey, Farrington & McClain.

But even after the diagnosis, Philpott was required to work on the plant’s sulfur injection system. In May 2013, he was diagnosed with occupational irritant-induced asthma.

Evidence presented to the judge by Philpott’s attorneys during hearings last August and September showed that KCP&L did not provide him with respiratory protection to wear while performing repairs on the sulfur injection system.

They also showed that no formal training about the hazards of sulfur and sulfur compounds was provided to plant employees until 2013.

“The Court finds clear and convincing evidence based on the totality of evidence adduced at trial that KCP&L showed complete indifference to the safety of others, including plaintiff, as well as a conscious disregard for the safety of others,” Circuit Judge William Hass wrote in his ruling.

Hass found that Philpott was entitled to more than $5.3 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. The judge also awarded $300,000 in compensatory damages to Philpott’s wife.

In a written statement, KCP&L said it intends to appeal the verdict.

“We disagree with the judgment in this case, both as a matter of law and on the facts,” the company said in the statement.

Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc