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NC Appeals Court Rules that Fireworks Negligence Lawsuit Can Proceed

The North Carolina Court of Appeals will allow negligence lawsuits filed on behalf of four workers killed or injured during a 2009 fireworks explosion to continue.

WCNC News reports that the court ruled in favor of the estates of three workers who died as a result of the explosion and one who was injured. Representatives for the workers filed the lawsuits in a lower court against Melrose South Pyrotechnics, the company who had been hired to put on the Fourth of July display that turned deadly.

The 2009 incident occurred on Ocracoke Island, a North Carolina barrier island. According to WRAL News, a crew of four men and one woman was working on or near a truck carrying fireworks when an explosion occurred just after 9 a.m. Witnesses reported homes and businesses shaking and said the resulting plume of smoke could be seen for miles.

One worker was killed instantly. The other four were airlifted to Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville and the North Carolina Jaycees Burn Center at UNC Hospitals. One of the injured, who suffered burns over 95 percent of his body, died at UNC Hospitals that afternoon, and two others died later due to injuries suffered in the explosion, reported WRAL.

WCNC reports that investigators determined a small explosion, which involved igniters for the fireworks, triggered the larger, devastating explosion.

Representatives for three of the deceased as well as the injured survivor filed negligence lawsuits against Melrose South Pyrotechnics, alleging that the workers had not received any training in pyrotechnics. The company, which had already paid a settlement of $42,000 to the North Carolina Department of Labor, requested that the lawsuits be dismissed due to insufficient evidence.

However, a three-judge panel for the appeals court unanimously upheld a previous ruling by the lower court to side with the plaintiffs and allow the litigation to continue.

If you or a loved one are considering a wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit, our Raleigh personal injury attorneys may be able to help you. Contact Kelly & West today to discuss the details of your case.

NOTE: Kelly & West is not representing the plaintiffs mentioned in this news report.

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