DuPont named in lawsuit over IEI fire

CHARLESTON, W. Va — DuPont has been named as one of the defendants in the fourth class-action lawsuit filed over the Oct. 21-29 fire at the Intercontinental Export-Import Plastics warehouse on Camden Avenue in Parkersburg.

Filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in Charleston, the suit lists five area residents and two local companies as plaintiffs and names IEI and related companies Sirnaik LLC, Surnaik Holdings of WV LLC, Polymer Alliance Services LLC and Green Sustainable Solutions LLC as defendants, along with DuPont.

Concerns about safety at the warehouse raised by local volunteer fire chiefs in 2008, repeat environmental violations noted by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection in 2015, facts about the fire and air quality testing results in its aftermath are cited in the latest filing. The lawsuit says DuPont “knew or should have known” about the issues at the warehouse but kept selling materials to the company anyway.

When contacted Thursday, Dan Turner, with DuPont corporate relations, said the lawsuit lacked merit.

“We do not comment on pending litigation; however, we believe the allegations against DuPont are without merit,” Turner said.

Last month, Turner said DuPont has no direct affiliation with the warehouses. Some of the materials stored in them were purchased from DuPont by IEI, he said.

“We do not know how IEI stored product and had no control on their distribution once IEI took ownership,” Turner said.

Sunny Naik, accounts manager for SurNaik Holdings of West Virginia LLC, declined to comment on the lawsuit Thursday.

This lawsuit was filed by five Charleston attorneys, including Vienna resident Harry Deitzler, and Parkersburg attorney Patrick McFarland.

Plaintiffs named in the latest filing are Steve Mowish, Savannah Rodgers, Scot Heckert, Sheila Heckert, Ransford Craig Heckert, FJM Contracting LLC and O.B.’s Used Cars, RVs and Motorcycles LLC.

According to the suit, items in the warehouse were stored in a manner that resulted in violations.

“During this review (May 22, 2017), the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection found 25 safety violations at the subject warehouse facility, including but limited to the failure to maintain good housekeeping and the failure to properly operate or maintain the facility,” the suit states.

In the count against DuPont the suit states as a manufacturer, the company had a duty “to work with customers, carriers, suppliers, distributors and contractors to foster the safe and secure use of its chemical products and to encourage and assist other companies in the safe storage of the chemicals it sells to others.”

The lawsuit alleges DuPont breached its duty by continually selling hazardous flammable materials to the SirNaik defendants despite safety concerns dating back to 2008.

The acts of the defendants constituted a public and private nuisance, trespassing and negligent infliction of emotion distress, the lawsuit alleges.

They are asking for an order certifying the class and appointing the plaintiffs and their counsel to represent the class, compensatory damages against the defendants and the other class members, compensatory damages, punitive damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees, filing fees and other reasonable costs of the lawsuit, prejudgment and postjudgment interest and any other relief the court deems just and proper.

(Staff writer Evan Bevins contributed to this report.)