The plaintiffs in the lawsuits related to the fire and explosion at the West, Texas, fertilizer company on April 15, 2013, are tired of waiting for litigation to begin, and the presiding judge over most of the upcoming proceedings has agreed with the plaintiffs.
Reportedly 170th State District Court Judge Jim Meyer denied a request from defense attorneys to delay beginning the first lawsuit for at least 90 days past the September 2015 scheduled start of the first trial group. Three different groups are involved in trials that Meyer previously pushed back in starting. The second and third trial groups are scheduled to begin December 2015 and March 2016, respectively.
The attorney representing the majority of defendants in the case at a hearing argued that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is continuing with a criminal investigation of the fire and explosion; therefore, defendants do not yet have access to materials or evidence collected at the explosion site by ATF. The defendants’ contention is that evidence relevant to the case may become available after the ATF concludes its investigation, which might be concluded after a minimum six months more.
It is a complicated mess as to who is suing who and the names of companies involved. Waco Tribune writer Tommy Witherspoon outlined the plaintiffs.
“About 200 plaintiffs, including families of those killed and injured, the city of West, West Rest Haven nursing home and West Terrace Apartments, have filed lawsuits in the wake of the explosion,” he wrote.
Being sued are Adair Chemical Co., the local owners of the plant that exploded, El Dorado Chemical Co., CF Industries, Thermaclime Inc. and International Chemical Co.
Witherspoon then notes Adair Grain, which is referenced as Adair Chemical Co. in some places, has filed a counterclaim against the four fertilizer producers and marketers making it both a plaintiff and defendant.
Witherspoon also wrote, “El Dorado and CF Industries contend the city was negligent because it failed to properly train the first responders and had insufficient protocols in place to battle the blaze that triggered the explosion.”
Reportedly CF Industries and El Dorado are making various arguments related to a “John Doe” who might have started the fire and the golf cart manufacturer for a potential electrical short. Additionally, there is an allegation that the city of West should be a responsible party “because it failed to protect its citizens by allowing, through its zoning authority, schools and a nursing home to operate in a close proximity to the plant.”