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Texas plant that exploded had $1 million in liability insurance

May 05, 2013|By Devin Kelly
  • Students clean debris at a home in West, Texas, that was damaged in the fertilizer plant explosion that killed 14 people last month. Lawyers said Saturday the plant only had $1 million in liability coverage.
Students clean debris at a home in West, Texas, that was damaged in the fertilizer… (Rod Aydelotte / AP )

The fertilizer plant that exploded last month in West, Texas, holds just $1 million in liability insurance, a negligible amount compared to the estimated cost of the damage caused by the blast, lawyers said.

John McCoy, one of the attorneys representing the company that owns West Fertilizer Co., confirmed the amount in an email to the Los Angeles Times after the Dallas Morning News reported it Friday. He said the plant did not hold excess or umbrella insurance policies.

“We do not yet know how this horrific accident occurred,” McCoy added in the email. “We are waiting for federal and state officials to … complete their investigation.”

PHOTOS: Fertilizer plant explosion

The April 17 blast killed 14 people, injured more than 200 and leveled buildings several blocks away. The office of state Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman said in a statement quoted by the Dallas Morning News that the amount of damage may run into the tens of millions of dollars.

“Others have estimated the damages at $100 million — far more than the amount of insurance we have heard the company may have had,” the statement said.

Randy C. Roberts, who is among the lawyers who have filed lawsuits against West Fertilizer’s owners, said he received an email Thursday disclosing that the plant held $1 million in insurance.

He said he was “floored” by the amount, but he also wasn’t surprised.

PHOTOS: Fertilizer plant explosion

“It’s not uncommon to see very serious operations conducted with minimum insurance or, in fact, no insurance” in Texas, Roberts said.

He and other lawyers for the plaintiffs will look to see if other companies can be held liable for the explosion.

“I don’t see the million taking care of even my three clients, much less the hundreds of people that need to be taken of,” Roberts said.

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devin.kelly@latimes.com

Twitter: @devkelly17


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