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First Batch of Texas Plant Blast Suits Settled

WACO, Texas (CN) - Hours before jury selection was to begin, West Fertilizer Co. settled claims by families of three victims of the April 2013 explosion that flattened large sections of the town of West and killed fifteen people.

McLennan County officials informed prospective jurors on Sunday evening that they are excused.

"A settlement has been reached covering the portion of the cases you were summoned for," the county website stated. Terms of the settlements were not disclosed.

West and its residents filed several lawsuits against West Fertilizer and its chemical suppliers after the blast. A "substantial" portion of a 30-ton shipment of ammonium nitrate in West Fertilizer's mixing building was heated to the point of detonation and unleashed a blast that felt like a 2.1 magnitude earthquake, according to the city's lawsuit. Over 150 homes were severely damaged or destroyed, as were a high school, middle school, apartment complex and nursing home.

State District Judge Jim Meyer divided the lawsuit into three groups, the first of which was set to go to trial today. The first group of plaintiffs consist of the families of Kevin Sanders, 33; William "Buck" Uptmor Jr., 45; and Kenneth Luckey Harris Jr., 52. All three died in the blast.

The second group of plaintiffs are scheduled to go to trial in late 2016.

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