It has been several years since the devastating tornado in Joplin, MO that killed 161 people and injured over 1,150 others.  However, the repercussions are still being felt by many in Joplin and the surrounding areas in Missouri. Most people were left without means or avenues to get compensated for their catastrophic losses when they lost their loved ones or were seriously injured.  However, one woman who lost two children and her husband during the deadly storm recently sued a Home Depot, claiming that the building was negligently constructed. The woman and her family were taking cover inside the well-known home improvement store when catastrophe struck, taking her husband and two children ages 5 and 19 months, according to a news article at the Insurance Journal.

The lawsuit, filed by Edie Howard Housel, states that the negligent design and construction of the home goods store caused her family’s death.  Concrete slabs weighing 100,000 pounds fell on the Housel family and others who were trapped inside the store at the time the tornado struck. According to the lawsuit, the store’s walls were constructed of these concrete slabs; when the tornado ripped the roof from the store, 63 of the 73 wall panels fell, some in an inward direction inside the store causing the death of the business invitees in the store.  Other walls inside the training room where customers were instructed to go did fall outward, saving several lives. The Plaintiff pointed out that safety should be the top concern for property owners who construct establishments designed for the public’s use. When safety is overlooked, it can come with a hefty price not only in terms of lives lost in a tragedy such as this one, but in terms of legal liability as well.  Surviving family members who lose loved ones may collect medical expenses, lost wages, burial/funeral costs, loss of companionship, and more, depending on the circumstances.

Other defendant’s in the lawsuit include Casco Diversified Corp., designer of the store, and property owner HD Development of Maryland, Inc.  The lawsuit was initially filed in Jasper County Circuit Court in May, but was moved in August to U.S. District Court’s Western Missouri District. Upon an examination performed by the Tilt-up Concrete Association, the Home Depot store was designed only to withstand winds of 90 miles per hour when it was constructed in 2001.  The tornado that took the lives of Housel’s family members contained winds of 165 mph.

Ultimately, a federal judge ruled against the woman and essentially dismissed her lawsuit when the judge sided with the attorneys for the defendants.  The defendants’ attorney stated that “Some forces of nature cannot be prevented by any design or construction techniques,” the defendants’. “Thus, the evidence demonstrates that reasonable minds can only conclude in favor of finding that Home Depot, its fallen employee, M. Dean Wells, plaintiff’s three deceased loved ones and the other 157 people that lost their lives in the Joplin tornado, could not have prevented the catastrophic events of the most deadly tornado in 58 years and the costliest on record.”

At Griggs Injury Law, LLC our Kansas City wrongful death attorneys are committed to obtaining the results clients deserve.  If you have suffered catastrophic losses, lost a loved one or members of your family because of negligence, we urge you to contact us today for outstanding results.