- Associated Press - Saturday, September 26, 2015

WACO, Texas (AP) - A judge refused to postpone the first trial related to a deadly fertilizer plant explosion in West that happened more than two years ago.

State Judge Jim Meyer on Friday declined a defense request to postpone the Oct. 12 trial involving relatives of three men killed in the blast, The Waco Tribune-Herald (https://bit.ly/1OzQRJb ) reported. More than 200 plaintiffs have sued over the April 2013 blast that killed 15, injured hundreds, leveled parts of buildings, and left a crater 90 feet wide and ten feet deep in West.

A defense attorney for a nitrate supplier to the West Fertilizer Co. sought to delay the trial after receiving new evidence from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Meyer had already delayed the first trial twice from its initial date.

“I can see this dragging on for a year,” Meyer said in denying the motion.

The fire at the plant ignited in a seed room and quickly engulfed an area where ammonium nitrate was stored in wooden containers. The chemical caused a massive detonation, an investigation by the State Fire Marshals’ Office and the ATF revealed. Authorities never determined how the fire started.

The lawsuits are against the local owners of the plant that exploded and companies that either manufactured or sold fertilizer to West Fertilizer Co. The suits were filed by families of those who died, the city, a nursing home and an apartment complex.

The owners of the West Fertilizer Co. had $1 million in liability coverage, but the damage from the explosion exceeded $200 million.

Meyer has divided those suing into three trial groups. Dallas attorney Sandy McCorquodale, whose clients are not among the first trial group, said that two of his clients died in August, and he has other elderly clients who might not live to see their day in court if the first trial is delayed indefinitely.

The judge has summoned 400 prospective jurors to come to court Oct. 9 to fill out questionnaires, which will assist attorneys during jury selection.


Information from: Waco Tribune-Herald, https://www.wacotrib.com

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