West Fertilizer lawsuits moving forward

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The court cases that have resulted from the West Fertilizer Co. explosion are complicated, and media reports about progress have been few and minimal. It seems that national media has been avoiding reporting the court progress.

CF Industries is in the center of what was last reported to be 14 lawsuits including around 200 plaintiffs and the City of West, Texas. There was a nine-member executive steering committee of plaintiff and defense attorneys and a steering committee composed of one lawyer from each of 24 law firms that has a client in the litigation appointed, according to one report from last summer.

Another report as of December explained that suits could be divided into three groups and moved forward by the nature of the claims: wrongful death, personal injury or property damage.

All the lawsuits have CF Industries as a common defendant with a contention that the fertilizer company that supplied the ammonium nitrate fertilizer should have better instructed West Fertilizer Co. on storage methods, inspected the fertilizer facilities for appropriateness or even used additives with the fertilizer to lessen the potential for fire and explosion. The contention is that CF Industries shipped 200 tons of fertilizer to the plant during the six weeks before the April 17 explosion that killed 15 and damaged more than 150 structures across a 35-block area.

Then as of last week, the television station of KXXV, Waco, issued a report that attorneys for 30 West residents and the City of West met with CF Industries attorneys before a judge. This news report was quite terse and less definite than normally would be expected for a case that the TV station posted on their website as starting with January testimony. And it has been brought to AgProfessional's attention that the testimoney is expected to begin in January 2015. 

The pre-trial meeting involved making sure all procedures were agreed upon before the trial; therefore, this occurred 12 months ahead of an actual court case's originally scheduled beginning.

KXXV reported, “Lawyers for CF Industries asked for more time to properly find documents needed for testimony. They said they would like to thoroughly look through their electronic documents and data to have it for upcoming testimony.”

The plaintiff’s lawyers reportedly contended that CF Industries didn’t need to delay testimony.

Both sides also reportedly “argued about proper testing protocol that will be done to ammonium nitrate samples,” according to KXXV.  

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