Judge approves settlement in EQ explosion

October 6, 2009 2:24:49 PM PDT
Tuesday a federal judge approved a settlement for Apex residents affected by the chemical explosion at EQ Industrial Services in 2006. Although three years have passed, residents who were forced out of their homes remember that night.

Denise Hatzidakis, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and an Apex resident, said she not only had to evacuate in the middle of the night with her small child, but she also had to close her business.

"It was terrible," plaintiff Josephine Cross said during Tuesday's testimony. "Real scary because it came on me all of a sudden. I didn't know what in the world was going on, what was happening."

The total settlement is approximately $80 million.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs say the settlement sends a strong message to other companies that store potentially volatile chemicals.

"Safety is absolutely paramount, and you can't jeopardize children, families, an entire community, by trying to cut corners," plaintiff attorney Robert Zaytoun said.

Families that were forced to flee their homes that night will receive $750.

"I think that's fair," plaintiff Randy Wilder said. "It's gonna reimburse people for their costs, and what they had to deal with that night."

Businesses like the Greek restaurant owned by Hatzidakis will receive $2,200 for losses linked to the explosion.

"I just think that the people who take responsibility and are paid and trusted to take care of that should be held responsible for doing it properly, and that's what this case was about," Hatzidakis.

People who are entitled to money from the settlement must file their paperwork by October 20.

For more information about how to file your paperwork or to download a claim document, visit apexfiresettlement.com.

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