PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lori Sitler
Phone: (302) 577-8314
Pager: (302) 247-1132
Date: July 8, 2003
Assault charges stem from July, 2001 explosion and fire at Delaware City
(Wilmington, DE): This morning in the Superior Court of Delaware for New Castle County, attorneys for Motiva Enterprises appeared before Judge Peggy Ableman and entered a plea of no contest to 1 count of Criminally Negligent Homicide and 6 counts of Assault 3rd degree for the death of boilermaker, Jeffrey Davis and injuries to six other workers, Kenneth Creamer, John Beaver, Christopher Greenwell, Shemika Speight, Robert Favazza and Steven Spera, stemming from a July, 2001 explosion and fire at the company’s Delaware City facility.
Ableman sentenced Motiva to a fine of $11,500 on the homicide charge and $5,750
for each of the assault charges for a total of $46,000.
She also imposed “compensating fines” to be paid to the Victim
Compensation Fund. Compensating
fines are described in Title 11 Del. C. Sec. 9014 as being in the court’s
discretion and “commensurate with the malice shown and the injury done to the
victim.” On the homicide charge,
a compensating fine in the amount of $100,000 was ordered.
On each of the 6 assault counts, a $25,000 compensating fine was
a statement made immediately following the plea and sentencing, Attorney General
M. Jane Brady said,
July 8, 2003, Motiva entered a plea of no contest, which is the same as a guilty
plea for sentencing purposes, to charges of criminally negligent homicide and
assault related to the explosion at their refinery in Delaware City in July,
2001. The criminal penalties for a
corporation are purely financial, and Motiva faced a maximum sentence under the
law in effect at that time, a total of $46,000 in fines, which was imposed.
Money can provide little compensation to the family of Jeff Davis, who died in the explosion, or those who suffered painful and continuing injuries, but I hope this prosecution serves to impress on those who do not take care with their business conduct that there are consequences in the justice system.
This plea culminates an intensive and complex investigation of nearly two years, during which we relied on federal and state investigators and reports, expert findings, and a careful review of the law. Many factual and legal issues were considered in arriving at the decision to charge the company, not individuals, and what charges to bring. I am satisfied these are the correct charges and this is the correct defendant.
businesses are honest and conduct their operations lawfully, and when government
intervention is necessary, it is through the regulation of their operations that
corrections are made. While the State of Delaware has repeatedly attempted to
use regulation and civil penalties to force Motiva to correct its business
operations, adjust its impact on the environment and to assure the integrity of
the refinery’s mechanical systems, it became clear in this investigation that
the company did not take their responsibilities to the plant workers or the
community seriously, and disregarded the potential consequences of their
decision-making. Unfortunately, the penalty the victims paid for Motiva’s
conduct is far more serious than that Motiva faces today.
financial penalties Motiva faced were clearly not appropriate for the nature of
the charges, and I am pleased that situation has been remedied.
This session, the General Assembly passed legislation I had proposed to
increase the fines for criminal conduct by business entities.
Under the new law, when death or serious injury is involved, the fines
are unlimited and in the discretion of the court.
I want to thank the General Assembly for their support of this important
just as the federal government has worked to assure there is financial
accountability within corporations which handle financial matters, we should
seek to assure environmental accountability in those corporations which have
significant impact on our environment. I
will continue to work with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental
Control to develop forms that assure better personal attention by management to
the responsibility of the business entities to take care with Delaware’s
environment and its citizens.
I would like to thank the Delaware State Police and Delaware Fire Marshall’s office for their persistent and
comprehensive investigations in this matter. The internal memos and emails they discovered were essential to our effort to develop the criminal case. I also would like to thank Peter Letang, the prosecutor on the case for his exemplary work in this matter.”