Attorneys for the law firm of Humphrey, Farrington & McClain have filed a wrongful death/personal injury lawsuit on behalf of six current or former Atchison, Kansas residents who were sickened by fumes from a chemical leak at a nearby processing plant in October of 2016.
The defendants listed on the petition are MGP Processing Inc., where the leak occurred, Harcros Chemicals Inc., a Kansas City, Kansas-based chemical manufacturing and distribution facility, and the individuals involved in the chemical release.
The lawsuit, filed in Wyandotte County District Court, states that Harcros Chemicals Inc. and MGP Ingredients Inc. were negligent and reckless in causing the release of toxic chemicals into the air. More than 140 people had to seek medical attention because of their exposure to the toxic plume which hovered over the eastern Kansas town of 11,000 people.
Five of the plaintiffs are suing for personal injuries incurred as a result of the chemical leak. Their injuries have included cancer and severe respiratory illnesses. The other plaintiff is suing on behalf of her husband who died from his injuries.
According to the lawsuit, the Harcros employee hooked his sulfuric acid hose to the wrong MGP fill line and 4,000 gallons of sulfuric acid was wrongfully mixed with 5,850 gallons of sodium hypochlorite. That mixture caused a chemical reaction which emitted a dense toxic vapor cloud into the air. The chemical reaction went on for 45 minutes engulfing the city in a toxic chlorine gas cloud and forcing the evacuation of nearby homes and schools.
The leak prompted an investigation by the United States Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board which found that MGPI and Harcros caused the chemical reaction and that the chemical reaction could have been prevented had the companies taken proper precautions
The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages for their claims. Humphrey, Farrington & McClain has recovered more than $1 billion in damages on behalf of clients who have suffered injury or financial loss because of other people’s negligence.
On March 6, 2019, both companies were indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s office for violations of the federal Clean Air Act. If convicted, they are looking at fines of up to $1.7 million.