Joplin Woman Suing Home Depot for Tornado Deaths

Joplin Woman Suing Home Depot for Tornado Deaths

I am no fan of Home Depot. It could be all the years I spent working at Lowes. It could be all the people they’ve killed over the years. However, I don’t think they’re responsible for the deaths of people who were killed in their store during a tornado.

This woman disagrees:

Edie Howard Housel, who lost her husband, Russell Howard, and their two children, 5-year-old Harli Jace and 19-month-old Hayze Cole, during the storm, specifically cites the 100,000-pound concrete slabs that made up the store’s walls. All but 10 of the 73 tilt-up panels fell after the tornado ripped the roof off of the building, including some that fell inward and killed Housel’s family members and others.

Housel filed the lawsuit in May in Jasper County Circuit Court, but it was moved last month to U.S. District Court’s Western Missouri District. It names as defendants Home Depot USA, property owner HD Development of Maryland, Inc., and store designer Casco Diversified Corp.,: The Joplin Globe reported.

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Home Depot USA, which is based in Atlanta, and HD Development denied all of the allegations, calling the EF-5 tornado that killed 161 people and destroyed thousands of buildings an “act of God.” Because of that, imposition of liability on the defendants is prohibited, the company’s attorneys said.

Here’s a photo of the Joplin Home Depot, after the tornado:


You can see how the walls just fell in along two sides.

Does she have a case? Maybe, but the building met the city codes.

In fact:

Tilt-Up Concrete Association formed a committee to examine the incident and challenge claims that the building was improperly constructed.

That probe found that the building was actually overbuilt when it was constructed in 2001 under the 1996 BOCA Basic Building Code, which said the building should be able to withstand wind loads of 70 mph. Instead, it was designed to handle 90 mph winds.

Not much withstood the Joplin tornado.

I’m not confident she wins this, or if it even goes to court.

Home Depot has a history of settling.

What do you think? Which way does this go?

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