The Companies Whose Fertilizer Blew Up West Say West Should Share in the Blame

Categories: Legal Battles

Francisco Antonio Ceron Garcia
Fifteen people were killed in the April 2013 West fertilizer plant explosion. A report by the state, and two fertilizer suppliers, say that could have been prevented.
In the year-plus since the West fertilizer plant explosion, the tragedy has made its way to where it was always destined: the courts. Around 200 plaintiffs, mostly people who had family members killed or property destroyed, have filed suits.

El Dorado Chemical Company and CF Industries are two fertilizer suppliers that have been hit with a barrage of lawsuits alleging their malfeasance, with victims arguing that the suppliers provided fertilizer chemicals that were unnecessarily dangerous. But the two companies are now fighting back.

In a recent motion, they argue that the city of West should be party to the lawsuits, since a state investigation has shown that the city failed to properly train its volunteer firefighters. They also claim that city safety standards failed to match other chemical plant regulations.

In a report from last May, the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office concluded that the explosion at the Bulk Processing Plant, which resulted in the deaths of 15 first responders, could have been prevented. The report highlighted a "lack of adherence" to national safety standards.

Plus, the companies argue, "The Texas State Fire Marshal also determined that strategies and tactics utilized by the WVFD were not appropriate for the situation and unnecessarily exposed the firefighters, many of whom have brought claims against the CF defendants in this matter, to extreme risks."

The report also pointed to a number of faulty organization strategies that could have helped in emergencies. Among these was that there were no supervising senior ranking members among the first responders, and the scene was "conducted in an unstructured and uncoordinated manner, without overall direction and without adequate supervision."

The city has employed Waco attorney Steve Harrison to field the suit. "The manufacturers of the fertilizer that blew up half of the town of West, killed 15 people, injured hundreds and destroyed homes and businesses have blamed the explosion on the West Volunteer Fire Department, a golf cart manufacturer and an imaginary criminal person," he told the Waco Tribune-Herald. "Some things really just don't need any comment."

The trials are scheduled to begin in July 2015.

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It doesn't make sense the makers of the fertilizer should be sued.   What happened in West isn't an insolated incident - our current governor and others court makers and users of dangerous chemicals to relocate to Texas because of the lack of regulation.  You need more insurance to get a bounce house than you do a permit to store dangerous chemicals in Texas.  And this isn't an attack on the first responders - but more the total lack of oversight at every level - including the City.  Everyone felt sorry for the owners of the plant because they were an older couple; who only had $ 1 million in liability insurance.  Yet West and our supposed anti big-gov't governor and posse tried to get the Federal government to foot the bill for the clean-up.  This wasn't an act of God -- it was an act of private business malfeasance.  We can only hope it moves our state towards more oversight in general.  All I have to do is look out the window every morning at the layer of smog surrounding Dallas that wasn't there a decade ago - to know that something is very wrong with environmental oversight in our state. I'm just surprised Perry hasn't invited owners of nuclear reactors to bury their waste in our state. . .


This is sickening at best.  Trying to sue the fertilizer company for improper use and storage of their product is worse than suing makers of TNT because their product blew up and killed someone.  This is puts a shame on victims. Has to be lawyer's idea.

primi_timpano topcommenter

Who are these lawyers and from where do they come? No Texas jury will buy this and most likely will punish them severely for it.


They should and all Texans should for supporting politicians who push for DEREGULATION and put business before PEOPLE. A vote for Gregg Abbot is a vote for deregulation

That takes some balls to blame the government for not regulating your plant enough to make it safe.

ScottsMerkin topcommenter

There you go, blame the VOLUNTEER first responders who came to try and save your shitty plant.  Maybe if they plant followed safety regulations this wouldnt have happened.  Who knows, but yeah fuck those corporate shitheads.  


So refreshing to see business interests demanding more regulation and bigger government.

scottindallas topcommenter

Breaking NEWS!!! Michael Jackson is DEAD!!!   This story too is old.  

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter


If I take a car and drive it through a crowd of people, is the auto manufacturer responsible for the deaths?

The West accident is tragic and multiple parties bear blame for the accident, most of the owners of the business who were storing the fertilizer improperly.

RTGolden1 topcommenter

@scottindallas It would be breaking news if MJ's doctor just filed a suit against the government that claimed that lack of government oversight of private physicians caused MJ's death.


@scottindallas "michael jackson is dead"...

so are many volunteer first responders.

This story is not old.  

Your attempt at humor is.

primi_timpano topcommenter

Anything is possible but in civil litigation usually the majority of the jury rules, though they can assess percentages of negligence. Rather than trying out how to bribe few jurors, it would make more sense to buy the judge. In something this high profile any kind of tampering would be high risk behavior.

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @ScottsMerkin

If your car is KNOWN to be a hazard to life and limb, because of its inherent characteristics and design -- bad brakes, poor steering, sharp pith spikes covering the front grille, etc ... then YES, the manufacturer of said death machine bears some responsibility.

hth, you fucking brain-dead bigot.

scottindallas topcommenter

@mcdallas @scottindallas The story and filing happened last week.  I read stories indicating this was the direction they would take a month ago, on the weekend of the 4th.

primi_timpano topcommenter

Can't cite anything in particular but sadly it seems that it's the plaintiffs' attys who are most likely to cut corners. This is because they reap the rewards personally. The defense lawyers are usually (but not always) paid by the hour. Inside counsel has no personal dollars at stake.

It is company/shareholder/insurance company money that gets lost or paid.

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