A couple of preemptive suits have been filed against Adair Grain, the parent company of West Fertilizer Co, which blew up last week, as we reported earlier, killing 14 people and leveling dozens of homes and an apartment complex. Individuals and companies are moving quickly to sue without even assessing what the damages are. The two suits, one levied by a series of insurance companies on behalf of individuals, two churches, and businesses such as a Chevrolet Car dealer and bakery, and the other put forth by a single mother named Andrea Jones Gutierrez, have not even stipulated damages, and this because some of the individuals involved haven’t so much as gone back to what’s left of their houses to see what they’ve lost. The legal process, it seems, moves faster than the grieving process, and lawyers are visited sooner than the very houses in question.
The first suit, lead by insurance companies, is naturally enough alleging that the company “was negligent in the operation of its facility, creating an unreasonably dangerous condition, which led to the fire and explosion.” The terms and language of the suit are a bit uncanny, since investigators haven’t even stipulated as to the cause of the explosion. To suggest negligence was involved before any cause at all has been determined is pure presumption.
Daniel Keeney, a spokesman for Adair Grain, declined to comment on the suits, saying, according to Reuters, that “Our focus is on the fact-finding and on assisting the investigating agencies in any way we can.” That, at least, would seem the reasonable order of business.
The other suit, meanwhile, that is being led by Gutierrez, a single, working mother who is seeking from $500,000 to $1 million in relief claims to have lost all her possessions and suffered physical and emotional injuries, though details were not offered.
Paul Grinke, who is leading the group of individuals and businesses in their suit, said the preemptive suit is “just to get the legal process initiated. Most of my clients and the folks I’m representing have not been able to get back to their property to see what’s left of it. I have gotten pretty close, and it is true devastation.”
He was also clear that the clients like the Adair family. “No one I have spoken with in the community of West are after the family themselves. They really do like them and they are prominent members of the community. This is a very close-knit community.”
Perhaps in our litigatious atmosphere, filing a suit is the most natural part of the grieving process, preempting even a look at what in fact has been lost.