A group of 39 neighbors of a Texas plastics recycling and compounding firm Poly-America Inc. are suing the company, claiming that a large August 2020 fire at its plant in Grand Prairie left them with respiratory issues.
In a lawsuit filed July 29 in Dallas County court, the residents said they're seeking $7.8 million, or $200,000 per plaintiff, to cover medical expenses and other costs from what they said were toxic air emissions from the fire.
The company did not respond to a request for comment and, as of Aug. 12, had not responded in court.
The lawsuit, filed by Kinder Law PLLC in Dallas, claims that the damages were caused by "defendants negligent, careless and reckless disregard of these duties," including not enforcing policies, operating safely, properly training staff and taking reasonable precautions to prevent chemical leaks.
In an interview with Dallas TV station NBCDFW, attorney Jennifer Kinder said "We know everyone has respiratory issues, long-term respiratory issues."
Kinder did not respond to a Plastics News request for comment.
One resident, Stacey Mims, told the TV station that "It was coming through the vents and then when I got to my residence, you could see the filaments and the debris, little flakes, coming down and you could smell the chemicals."
The lawsuit accused the company of not doing enough to keep the nearby population safe.
The 2020 fire burned for just under 24 hours before it was extinguished.
The City Council of Grand Prairie June 21 approved a $200,000 settlement with Poly-America to cover costs for the fire. A city report said that Poly-America was unable to recover those costs from its insurance company but wanted to settle with the city for outstanding expenses incurred in fighting the fire.
The city document said the unbudgeted costs for the hazardous material response was $235,000, including the cost of mutual aid from other departments.
Besides Grand Prairie's department, firefighters from Fort Worth, Dallas, DFW International Airport, Irving and other nearby communities assisted.
Poly-America manufactures Husky trash bags and holds patents for different bags, according to its website.
The company has had several other recent fires, including one at its Carolina Poly Inc. subsidiary in South Carolina, also in August 2020, as well as a second small blaze at its Grand Prairie factory in September 2021.