Reporting Robbie Owens
WEST (CBS 11 NEWS) – Jeanette and James Holecek lived—and could have died—in the shadow of the West Fertilizer Plant. Their home is a total loss. But, ask them if they plan to sue, and Jeanette’s answer is emphatic.
“No!” and for good measure: “No. I’m alive.”
What is left of the Holecek’s home sits half a football field from the epicenter of the fertilizer plant blast. Pieces of twisted iron too heavy to lift now rest in the front yard. The blast two weeks ago killed 14—including 12 first responders—and injured dozens more. More than a hundred homes nearest the plant will likely be demolished. Still, they have no plans to sue.
“I don’t mean to be ugly about the people that are suing,” says Jeanette. “I could work three lifetimes and never make a million dollars. Excuse me. I want to build my house, replace everything in my house and I do not want to owe anything. That’s all I want.”
But, some survivors are already filing lawsuits seeking damages. According to the McLennan County District Clerk’s office, a half dozen lawsuits have already been filed.
Still others have nothing but contempt for out-of-town lawyers on the scene that they say are only in town to drum up business.
When CBS 11 asked Chad Pinkerton, Pinkerton Law Firm out of Houston if residents might be referring to him, he replied: “Might be. I have been called worse. I can tell you, I’m proud of what I do.”
Pinkerton has set up a temporary store front in West. And he’s signed more than a dozen clients.
“I represent a first responder who lost his life, and the family,” says Pinkerton. “I represent a gentleman that was seriously injured in the apartments. I represent other personal injury cases, and I represent people with property damage claims.”
Early damage estimates have topped more than $100 million. But, there are still plenty of questions: who will pay damages? Will those who wait to file claims come away empty handed?
“We don’t know the answer to that,” says Pinkerton. “There may or may not be limited funds. There may be one defendant, or I believe several defendants that did wrong in this. Those accountable will answer for it in court.”
Meanwhile, Jeanette Holecek has opted for another way of coping with the loss. She cradles a shard of aluminum – all that was left of her front door—it is in the perfect shape of a cross.
“It will hang in my new house, just like this,” says Holecek. “God guarded us, he had his hands around us. That’s all I can say.”
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