Suit filed in blast that destroyed Mo. restaurant

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Associated Press

Posted on March 23, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Updated Sunday, Mar 24 at 8:02 AM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Six employees of a popular Kansas City restaurant destroyed last month in a natural gas explosion have filed a lawsuit over the blast that killed a server.

The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/YlFNqW ) reports that the suit was filed Friday in Jackson County Circuit Court on behalf of six employees of JJ's restaurant. They were among more than a dozen people injured in the Feb. 19 explosion. The defendants are Missouri Gas Energy, a utility locating service and a cable company subcontractor, Olathe, Kan.-based Heartland Midwest.

A Missouri Gas Energy official has said that Heartland Midwest reported hitting a natural gas line with an underground borer before the blast. The exact cause remains under investigation.

The suit alleges that gas company employees told people it was safe to remain in the area, near the upscale Country Club Plaza shopping and entertainment district.

The suit said Heartland notified MGE and other utilities that it would be drilling to install cable or fiber optic lines. Before the work began, the utility locating service marked the area to indicate the location and the depth of any gas lines, the suit said.

A combination of "erroneous markings" and miscommunication between the entities led to a line being cut and the subsequent blast, the suit alleges.

Missouri Gas Energy spokesman Jason Fulp and Heartland Midwest attorney Brad Russell didn't immediately respond to phone calls Saturday from The Associated Press. Russell previously released a statement expressing sympathy for the victims and saying the company is cooperating with authorities.

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