Lawsuits filed against owner of Texas fertilizer plant following deadly explosion

by Jim Orr

At least 33 residents and four local insurance agencies have filed suit against Adair Grain Inc., the owner of the fertilizer plant that exploded last week in West, Texas. The explosion on April 17 killed at least 14, injured more than 200 and damaged more than 70 homes and businesses in a five-block area of West, Texas.

The lawsuits accuse the plant owners of negligently failing to train and supervise employees adequately in the storage and handling of a volatile, toxic material such as ammonium nitrate, a common building block of fertilizers.

The company “was negligent in the operation of its facility, creating an unreasonably dangerous condition, which led to the fire and explosion,” alleges the lawsuit filed by insurance companies on behalf of individuals, two churches, and businesses including a Chevrolet dealer and a bakery.

Investigators have not said what caused the fire and explosion, which was so powerful it leveled homes and left a crater 93 feet wide and 10 feet deep. Most of those killed in the explosion were firefighters. After a fire broke out at the fertilizer plant, some of the volunteer firefighters and other first responders who rushed to the scene appeared to have known that there were tons of dangerously combustible ammonium nitrate inside, but others did not.

Investigators say that ammonium nitrate stored at the plant appeared to have caused the deadly explosion. Ammonium nitrate is the same chemical that Timothy McVeigh used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. The nitrogen-rich chemical is popular with farmers as a fertilizer but it can be explosive. However, when properly stored, ammonium nitrate is difficult to ignite. Thus investigators are trying to determine what could have created the intense heat or other unusual conditions necessary to detonate the chemical.

If you or someone you know has been injured or if you lost a loved one as a result of an industrial accident, you need an experienced and knowledgeable law firm that can guide you through the legal process and obtain maximum compensation on your behalf. Our lawyers approach every case with the assumption it will be tried to a jury. Whether it’s hiring the right experts, obtaining the necessary records, interviewing the key witnesses or helping our clients get the medical care they need, our meticulous attention to detail ensures that our clients achieve maximum value for their claim.

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Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2013.

by Jim Orr

Jim Orr is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P focusing on business and personal injury litigation. Jim was selected multiple times to the Super Lawyers List and has tried 70+ cases to verdict.