April 24, 2013 — Reuters is reporting that a single mother and four insurance companies have filed lawsuits against Adair Grain and Donald Adair, the owner of West Fertilizer Company, for last week’s fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. Both lawsuits were filed in McLennan County district court and allege Adair being “negligent in the operation of its facility,” creating an unreasonably dangerous condition, which led to the fire and explosion.”
Daniel Keeney, spokesman for West Fertilizer Company, issued the following statement regarding the lawsuits:
“We decline to comment on any pending litigation. Our focus remains on the fact finding. We continue to do everything we can to understand what happened to ensure nothing like this ever happens again in any community. To that end, the owners and staff of West Fertilizer Co. are working closely with investigating agencies. We have encouraged all employees to assist in the fact finding to whatever degree possible.”
The single mother who filed a lawsuit is Andrea Jones Gutierrez, who lived in the apartment building next to the fertilizer plant with one child. Her home and all of her possessions were destroyed, and she is also claiming damages for physical and emotional injuries. She is seeking $500,000 to $1 million in damages.
The other lawsuit was filed by a group of insurance companies that represent individuals, churches, and businesses including a car dealership and a bakery. The companies are subsidiaries of W.R. Berkley Corporation, and include:
- Acadia Insurance Company
- Continental Western Insurance Company
- Union Standard Lloyds
- Union Standard Insurance Company
The Insurance Council of Texas said that insured losses in West, Texas, will likely exceed $100 million. A spokesman for the group said that approximately 140 homes damaged or destroyed, based on conversations with insurance agents and adjustors.
Insurance adjustors and crews have descended on the town of West to examine the damage, board up homes, and start the cleanup process. Investigators are still working at the site of West Fertilizer to find out what sparked the initial fire before the explosion. Assistant state fire marshall Kelly Kistner said, “This is much like an archeological dig that we’re going through.” Officials have ruled out lightning and a rail car carrying ammonium nitrate that some speculated may have caused the fire.
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