The family of a woman who was among seven workers killed when a natural gas line exploded at a chocolate factory in West Reading, Pennsylvania, in March is suing the employer and 10 others for wrongful death.
According to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, the owners of RM Palmer Co. with evacuating workers on March 24 when several complained of smelling gas at the factory, which was leveled when it exploded at approx. 17.00 that day. Those who operate the gas pipeline, persons responsible for maintaining the pipeline and parent companies are also listed as defendants in Edith Ruiz v. UGI Corp. et al.
The complaint, filed by Judith Lopez-Moran̵7;s family, says the owners of the factory “were responsible for ensuring that the factory was in a safe condition and that the workers at the factory were provided with a safe place to work” and that they “received numerous cases of actual notices, warnings and complaints regarding a suspected, potential and/or actual gas leak at the plant, including on the date of the explosion.”
“Despite this foregoing knowledge … (the company) willfully failed to evacuate the workers from the plant and failed to immediately contact the appropriate authorities to determine the source of the gas leak, thereby knowingly exposing the workers, including Judith Lopez-Moran, to an unreasonable and unacceptable risk of severe injury and/or death,” the report states.
The suit, which seeks “amounts in excess of the jurisdictional threshold in damages, exclusive of interest, costs, punitive damages, and liquidated damages,” accuses the defendants of “negligence, recklessness, gross negligence, wantonness, and other tortious conduct.”
The company could not be reached for comment Wednesday.