TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Texas fertilizer plant that exploded has only $1M coverage, lawyers say

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
Saturday, May 4, 2013, 9:06 p.m.
 

McALLEN, Texas — The Texas fertilizer plant that exploded last month, killing 14 people, injuring more than 200 others and causing tens of millions of dollars in damage to the surrounding area, had only $1 million in liability coverage, lawyers said on Saturday.

Tyler lawyer Randy C. Roberts said he and other attorneys who have filed lawsuits against West Fertilizer's owners were told on Thursday that the plant carried only $1 million in liability insurance. Brook Laskey, an attorney hired by the plant's insurer to represent West Fertilizer Co., confirmed the amount in an email to The Associated Press after the Dallas Morning News first reported it.

“The bottom line is this lack of insurance coverage is just consistent with the overall lack of responsibility we've seen from the fertilizer plant, starting from the fact that from day one they have yet to acknowledge responsibility,” Roberts said.

Roberts said he expects the plant's owners to ask a judge to divide the $1 million in insurance money among the plaintiffs, several of whom he represents, and then file for bankruptcy.

He said he was not surprised that the plant was carrying such a small policy.

“It's rare for Texas to require insurance for any kind of hazardous activity,” he said. “We have very little oversight of hazardous activities and even less regulation.”

On April 17, a fire at the West Fertilizer Co. in West, a town 70 miles south of Dallas, was quickly followed by an earth-shaking explosion that left a 90-foot-wide crater and damaged homes, schools and nursing home within a 37-block blast zone. Among those killed were 10 emergency responders.

State and federal investigators have not determined what caused the blast.

The plant had reported just months before the blast that it had the capacity to store 270 tons of ammonium nitrate, but it was unknown how much was there at the time of the explosion.

Roberts said that even without a conclusive cause, negligence lawsuits can proceed.

“The law allows courts to presume negligence when something happens that would not ordinarily occur but for negligence,” Roberts said. “A fire might be an unavoidable accident, but a fire of this magnitude resulting from a fire is not an unavoidable accident.”

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Doctors, hospitals get more time to convert to electronic health records
  2. BP credited with gulf tourism boom
  3. Wife, brother accused in man’s hatchet killing
  4. EPA expected to expand protection of streams, wetlands
  5. Biden reassures Iraq: U.S. backs your forces in fight against Islamic State
  6. Rescuers find stranded woman in California desert, too late for husband
  7. Senate committee backs vets’ rights to marijuana
  8. Woman ends protest from anchor chain in Wash. against drilling
  9. Obama gets state, local allies for key initiatives
  10. Phone threats put scare into international flights
  11. Shuttered Tenn. cemetery opens for Memorial Day