By BRETT DUNLAP
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — A second lawsuit has been filed in regard to the IEI warehouse fire.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in the Wood County Circuit Clerk’s Office as firefighting operations began to wind down as officials declared the fire was put out by noon Sunday.
According to a copy of the lawsuit, Paul Snider, of Parkersburg, is bringing a civil action against Surnaik Holdings of WV, LLC on Snider’s own behalf and of others similarly situated, for personal injury and property damages allegedly arising from toxic smoke from the warehouse fire on the 3800 block of Camden Avenue.
”Smoke from the fire and smoldering ruins of the warehouse continued to be a nuisance and health hazard to residents and workers in the vicinity of the fire for days,” the suit said.
The plaintiff is alleging negligence; reckless, willful and wanton indifference motivated by financial gain; nuisance; and trespass.
”…Surnaik knew or should have known of the flammable and other potentially hazardous characteristics of the chemical waste stored by its tenant, IEI…,” the suit said.
In regard to negligence, the lawsuit said property owners, like everyone else, have a duty to exercise reasonable care, maintaining fire protection systems where flammable and potentially hazardous waste chemicals and other chemicals are stored.
”Surnaik failed to exercise reasonable care by failing to maintain an appropriate fire protection system,” the lawsuit said, adding if that system was in place the fire could have been better controlled.
As a result of Surnaik’s alleged negligence in failing to maintain a fire protection system, the plaintiff and class members suffered smoke and other suspended particulate matter in the air on their properties and in their residences, which interfered with their use and enjoyment of their property; in a number of cases caused respiratory ailments ranging from irritation to exacerbation of serious pre-existing conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; and soot, ash and other particulate matter in the area that can continue to cause problems until cleaned up, the lawsuit states.
In regard to reckless, willful and wanton indifference motivated by financial gain, the suit alleges insurance the business would have only covers replacement costs rather than actual value where the cost to replace an old building is many times the actual value of the old building, resulting in a situation where the owner could have a potential windfall in the event the building is destroyed by fire.
In regard to nuisance, the suit alleges having a nonworking fire system in the building which was in a heavily populated area was unreasonable.
In regard to trespass, the suit alleges the smoke and particulate matter entering others’ property constitutes trespass.
The plaintiffs are seeking punitive damages in regard to property damage; loss of the use of their property, damages for lost profits of businesses and damages for personal injury.
The lawsuit was filed by attorneys of the Calwell Practice of Charleston.
See more from The Parkersburg News and Sentinel