On April 17, a massive explosion took place at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant. The explosion killed 14 people and injured more than 200. It also leveled 90 nearby homes and damaged numerous businesses in the area.
The explosion happened in the evening, so none of the workers at the plant were among those killed. 11 of those who died were firefighters, and the other three were people who lived nearby.
Firefighters and emergency responders are entitled to workers' compensation or similar benefits, as are surviving family members of those who were killed. No information has been given on whether those claims are in process yet.
While investigators have not yet determined the cause of the deadly industrial accidents, two lawsuits have already been filed by people affected by the blast. The first was filed by a single mother whose apartment was destroyed in the blast. She and her teenage son "lost all of their worldly possessions" and suffered both physical and emotional injuries from the explosion.
A second lawsuit was filed by insurance companies that insured nearby residents, businesses, and churches that were damaged in the blast. Those lawsuits starkly claim that the company was negligent in operating the facility, hiring adequate inspectors, training and supervising employees, and installing equipment. That negligence resulted in unreasonably dangerous conditions at the plant, ultimately causing the explosion and damaging the insurers' clients' property.
The lawsuit doesn't claim mere negligence. It affirmatively states that plant's owners and managers knew or should have known that its employees, contractors, and inspectors were not qualified, incompetent or properly licensed to inspect, maintain, and/or operate equipment at the subject fertilizer plant facility."
Certainly, this industrial accident was unusual, as the explosive properties in fertilizer can cause explosions beyond the capacity of most fuels. It is not unexpected, however, for an explosion this size to have affected an entire community. Our sympathies are, of course, with all those affected by the tragedy.