In July, the Honorable Todd Ramlow granted Plaintiffs’ leave to file an amended complaint adding Holian Insulation Company, Inc. as an additional defendant to the current lawsuit against Chemtool Incorporated and The Lubrizol Corporation. Meyers & Flowers trial attorneys Peter Flowers, Michael Lenert, and Christopher Warmbold in conjunction with the Rockford-based law firm Clark Frost Zucchi, are leading the prosecution of these state court claims.
On the day of the explosion, Holian Insulation Company, Inc. was performing an insulation replacement project at the Chemtool site in Rockton. It is believed a scissor lift operated by a Holian employee struck an overhead valve, kicking a domino-like effect into motion that would ultimately result in the Chemtool explosion. When the scissor lift hit the overhead valve, oil spilled from the connecting piping and pooled on the ground, where it would later ignite and cause the cataclysmic explosion.
While Holian is alleged to have been negligent through its employee’s operation of the scissor lift that caused hot oil to spill resulting in the explosion, Plaintiffs maintain that Chemtool consciously disregarded the safety of its surrounding neighbors by ignoring multiple recommendations by fire inspectors to install and maintain an adequate fire suppressant system within the facility which housed millions of pounds of toxic chemicals.
“This situation was completely avoidable had Chemtool simply installed a proper fire suppressant system as it had been advised to do so years before. It was readily foreseeable that absent a proper fire suppressant system, a fire could lead to a catastrophic explosion given the materials that Chemtool stored at its facility” stated Michael Lenert.
With Holian added to the lawsuit, the parties plan to appear before the Court on November 23, 2022 as the case continues to proceed through the discovery phase of the litigation.
What happened at the Chemtool plant?
At about 7:00 AM on Monday, June 14, 2021, an explosion occurred at Chemtool – a chemical manufacturing plant that produces petroleum-based industrial lubricants – located in Rockton, Illinois. The subsequent fire rapidly spread throughout the facility, spouting smoke, soot, and synthetic chemicals into the surrounding area. The explosion was so dire that 150 firefighters from 40 different regional agencies responded to the scene, and Governor Pritzker deployed the National Guard to combat the fire and its aftermath.
Residents close to the Chemtool location were ordered to evacuate, and many reported seeing large pieces of debris falling from the sky paired with a chemical-like smell in the air. Residents feared they would not have a safe home to return to. The explosion was significant enough that smoke from the scene registered on weather radars and was extensively visible, pluming several miles across the village.
What are the consequences of the explosion at the Chemtool plant?
The explosion exposed the residents of Rockton to hazardous chemicals, the effects of which will be ongoing. The explosion also displaced hundreds of residents in the areas surrounding the Chemtool plant: local authorities ordered a mandatory evacuation for all residents and businesses within a one-mile radius of the chemical plant; residents within a two-mile radius of the plant were instructed to stay indoors with all exterior windows and doors shut; and a mask mandate was effectuated for residents within a three-mile radius. When residents returned, they found their properties riddled with hazardous debris and covered in black soot.
How has Meyers & Flowers responded?
Meyers & Flowers attorneys have been committed to assisting the residents of Rockton navigate the aftermath of the Chemtool explosion. In the days following the fire, Meyers & Flowers attorneys hosted a townhall meeting in Rockton to meet with local residents, hear the concerns of those affected by the explosion, and ensure swift and just legal action against Chemtool. In June 2021, Meyers & Flowers filed some of the first individual civil lawsuits against Chemtool Incorporated and The Lubrizol Corporation, seeking to hold Chemtool accountable for its alleged negligence, willful and wanton conduct, and trespass that adversely affected the residents of Rockton. Meyers & Flowers has also brought claims against Holian Insulation Company, Inc. to further ensure that all culpable parties are held fully accountable for the damage they are alleged to have caused.