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Spring Branch Explosion Update


Insurance lawsuits from landowners impacted by the Watson Grinding and Processing accident begin to be lodged weeks after the deadly explosion.

Near to 800 homeowner lawsuits and about 350 car claims were filed in conjunction with the blast on Monday, February 17, said Camille Garcia, Chief of Marketing and Public Affairs with the Texas Insurance Council. She said it was impossible to assess the estimated expense of the harm incurred by the blast at this point—many of the affected buildings would require further evaluation by engineers and engineering teams to discover the maximum magnitude of the damage.

Suppose it comes to anything so unusual like this explosion. In that case, we look at it from the point of view of what damages we may see and certain damages that may not be apparent at the moment of the investigation but may emerge in an engineer's report or contractor.

Meanwhile, advocates defending clients hurt by the Watson Grinding and Processing Co. accident in the northwest of Houston believe that the guilty party or parties will be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.

Eric Dick, a Houston-based Dick Law Firm's insurance attorney, serves around 450 customers harmed by the Watson Grinding explosion at 4525 Gessner Road on January 24. City authorities said the blast destroyed at least 4,000 local homes and enterprises, but Dick estimates that at least 2,000 homes would be damaged.

"I wouldn't be shocked if the loss to property at the end of the day was between $300 million and $400 million," Dick told the Houston Business Newspaper.

According to city authorities, the Watson Grinding and Processing Co. explosion in the early morning hours of January 24 damaged or burned at least 450 homes.

Homes and companies inside the Watson Grinding facility's 1-mile range each possibly sustained structural losses ranging between $100,000 and $200,000, Dick said. The devastation is noticeable to all of Dick's clients—including caved-in floors, smashed walls, splintered rafts, and fractures in the floor. But Dick said that individual landowners would not find less obvious structural problems until weeks or months in the future.

Since Waston Grinding and Processing and Watson Valve Services Inc. voluntarily sued on February 6 for Chapter 11 Insolvency Security, lawyers urged their clients to temper their aspirations. All of the injured citizens want to be placed back in almost the same place as before the blast. It's going to take a long time and a lot of effort.

Money is not going to come from Watson. The very fact that they have filed bankruptcy shows us that they feel their obligations are larger than the money they have.

Representatives for Watson Grinding and Processing failed to elaborate on issues relating to the company's ongoing lawsuits.

The early morning chemical explosion on January 24 reportedly took two lives. Frank Flores and Gerardo Castorena, who arrived early at the pre-work plant, were killed in the blast at around 4:25 a.m.

Local officials are examining Gilberto Mendoza Cruz's death. He resided in the area of the explosion and was killed by rubble falling from his destroyed house. According to media sources, Cruz cared for burns to his spine, back, and shoulder after the blast died on February 5 after being admitted for elevated blood pressure. Lawyers defending Cruz say that he died after sustaining debilitating injuries induced by the explosion.