Then this week, things in the lawsuit heated up after Mannan's report was provided to the judge and to both parties -- but not to the public -- on Monday.
On Wednesday, lawyers for Bayer and the residents got a chance to question Mannan during a legal deposition. By Thursday, Bill DePaulo, a lawyer for the residents, had filed a motion asking Goodwin to disqualify Mannan, alleging that the engineer had based his report largely on an MIC study conducted by one of the expert witnesses hired by the law firm Jackson Kelly on Bayer's behalf.
In a sworn statement, Mannan testified that he had asked Bayer to prepare some modeling of two types of incidents in which water contaminated the plant's MIC inventory and caused a runaway reaction and leak. One of the incidents involved a small hole in some of the MIC unit's tubing. The other was an act of terrorism or sabotage carried out with help from disgruntled plant workers -- a scenario similar to that which Carbide always said caused the Bhopal disaster.
Mannan said there was nothing wrong with him using the Bayer modeling in his report to Goodwin.
"I think the court wants my independent opinions, but where I got the information, I don't think there is any specific instruction with regard to that," Mannan said in his sworn statement, which DePaulo filed as an exhibit to his motion.
Shortly after DePaulo filed his motion, Goodwin entered an order setting a hearing for 11 a.m. Friday. The judge, though, said the hearing was not to consider DePaulo's motion, but to hear an unspecified motion from Bayer.
Then, less than a half-hour before that hearing, Bayer filed a strongly worded response to DePaulo's motion.
"The plaintiffs filed a motion to disqualify Dr. Mannan because they don't like his conclusion that the MIC unit, process and storage at Institute is safe, and does not pose an unreasonable risk to the public, and they have no way to rebut it," Bayer lawyers said in their filing.
Bayer lawyers attached Mannan's report to their court filing, making the document public for the first time.
In his 60-page report, Mannan concludes that a major MIC incident at the Institute plant is extremely remote -- perhaps something that could occur one time in every 184 trillion years.
However, the report did not contain all of the calculations that Mannan used to calculate the possible risks. Mannan also noted that Bayer was still working on implementing safety recommendations from government inspectors and its own third-party investigators.
When Goodwin began Friday morning's hearing, Bayer lawyers didn't have a motion to make, but instead wanted to inform Goodwin of the company's decision to drop efforts to resume MIC production.
A few hours later, Goodwin denied DePaulo's motion to disqualify Mannan and signed an order dismissing as moot the residents' request for a longer-term injunction against Bayer's MIC unit. The judge scheduled a hearing for Monday morning, though, to discuss other pending claims by the residents concerning personal injury and medical monitoring.
On Monday night and Tuesday, a National Academy of Sciences panel is scheduled to meet in Institute. Its members are using the Bayer plant as a case study for reducing chemical facility risks by reducing the use and storage of extremely toxic materials.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.