The family of an American killed in last year’s terrorist attack at an Algerian natural gas plant is suing the owner, BP, alleging the company’s inactions made a dangerous situation even worse.
Frederick Buttaccio, 58, was among the 39 foreign workers taken hostage and killed by Islamist terrorists in January 2013 at the sprawling Tigantourine desert plant near In Amenas.
According to Fred Hagans, the lawyer representing Buttaccio’s family, BP denied Buttaccio cell phone access to the company’s wireless network because he was not in a management position. Had he been able to access it, he could have received “texts and news updates that allowed others to stay hidden and survive the attack.”
In addition, the suit claims, BP had not put a plan in place to deal with an attack.
Instead, the contractor came out from hiding in a guard shack along with other foreign workers, believing the episode was over. “Since they had not heard gunfire in some time, and since they had no information to the contrary, they assumed it was safe to emerge from hiding. They came into the open. They were immediately captured,” the lawsuit reads.
“At one point, the terrorists pulled Mr. Buttaccio aside, handed him a phone and made him call his wife, Rene Buttaccio. Mr. Buttaccio told Rene he loved her and their children, that he needed her to pass his love along to the children, and that he needed her to contact the United States Embassy and let them know of the terrorists’ call. This was the last time Mr. and Mrs. Buttaccio would speak,” the complaint states.
After Algerian forces raided the plant and ended the crisis, BP informed the plaintiffs that Buttaccio had died of a heart attack. But the family claims he was one of several hostages who had explosives strapped to his body, and that he died when they detonated.
Buttaccio’s wife and children seek punitive damages of more than $1 million for gross negligence, fraud, breach of contract, premises liability and infliction of emotional distress, according to Courthouse News Service.
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