This month sees the beginning of a resolution to the series of lawsuits that have been ongoing since a West, Texas fertilizer plant exploded in 2013. On February 17, a McLennan County judge approved settlements for the families of 11 children who were injured in the traumatic event. Most of the claims, however, are still pending.
The explosion occurred around 8 in the evening on April 17, 2013. A small fire broke out at the West Chemical and Fertilizer Company plant, and less than half an hour after, an enormous explosion left a blast crater 93 feet wide and shook the ground so forcefully that the United States Geological Survey registered it as an earthquake with a magnitude of 2.1.
The explosion not only destroyed a nursing home, apartment complex, and multiple houses within a five block radius, it also killed at least 15 people, most of whom were firefighters and first responders, and injured hundreds more. The town of 2,800 people was devastated. The exact cause of the explosion is still unknown, however, after ruling out other causes, officials believe that the fire was a criminal act and are still looking for the perpetrator. The explosive chemicals, however, were being stored at the facility without being registered with the government.
Today, 11 families affected by the incident have closure. Because the settlements involve children, the details are confidential. These particular 11 cases only involved two defendants of the four, El Dorado Chemical Co. and International Chemical Co. Multiple other pending lawsuits name CF Industries and Adair Grain Co. as additional defendants.
One of the plaintiffs affected by the recent decision was Sandra Ortiz who lost her husband in the explosion. He was inside the apartment building next to the fertilizer plant when the explosion took place. In addition, her son, 11 years old at the time, was outside playing basketball when “flying debris” from the explosion caused him partial hearing loss and lacerations.
One of the 11 plaintiffs’ attorneys, Mo Aziz of Houston, discussed the variety of injuries that his clients had faced, from physical injuries such as cuts, broken ribs, and hearing loss to the mental anguish of post-traumatic stress disorder. He stressed that “While not all had physical injuries, the horrors of going through this event and seeing what happened to their town obviously affected all of these kids.”
A trial date is set to begin on April 3, 2017. This group of plaintiffs will include “West Rest Haven, a nursing home destroyed in the blast; J&B Realty, owners of the apartment complex; and 10 insurance companies who have filed subrogation claims to try to recoup funds they have paid out.” Multiple settlements have already been proportioned and more are expected to come.
Public health and safety are fundamental concerns that should be protected before all else by the government and corporate interests alike. If you have been injured by corporate carelessness, attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian will work hard to get you the money you deserve to recover. Contact them online, or call their office today at (800) 529-6162. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
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