A business owner seeks more than $6 million for damage to his enterprises by the 2016 fire of Blue Grass Stockyards in Lexington, according to a lawsuit filed in Fayette Circuit Court.
Robert A. Shirley II, sole proprietor of Viking Wholesale, Meadowthorpe Motors and Southern Auto, filed suit last week.
The lawsuit names the stockyards, BBBBP & S LLC (the owner of the real estate on which the stockyards operated), and Douglas Dadisman, doing business as Dadisman Builders of Lawrenceburg, as defendants. Principals with the stockyards and Dadisman Builders could not be immediately reached for comment.
But in a cross-claim to another suit filed in December, the stockyards said Dadisman, the roofing contractor, had a duty to ensure that its work was performed in “a good, safe and workmanlike manner,” and that its “work area was made safe.” Dadisman admits it was retained to do roofing work, but denies or says it has insufficient information to determine the truthfulness of allegations made against it.
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Lexington fire officials said the Jan. 30, 2016, fire was accidental. They said it was caused when a construction worker was using a circular saw to cut metal roofing at the stockyards on Lisle Industrial Avenue. Sparks ignited combustible materials.
The fire destroyed at least 184 vehicles and killed 49 head of cattle, fire officials said in February.
The fire spread from the stockyards property “and caused complete destruction of virtually all of the business assets” of Shirley Enterprises, a company operating on the Viking Wholesale property, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit claims several counts of negligence and says the defendants “knew or should have known” that the condition of the stockyards structures “would enhance an already distinct fire hazard.”
The defendants “failed to take reasonable precautions” to prevent the fire and “failed to notify the appropriate governmental authorities and obtain the required authorizations for such work to proceed,” the lawsuit says.
Shirley used portions of the Viking Wholesale property at 157 South Forbes Road to operate other businesses under the names of Southern Auto and Meadowthorpe Motors to store vehicles “and other business assets,” the lawsuit says.
The Viking Wholesale property was owned by Joe Jennette and was leased to Shirley for his enterprises.
Jennette had granted Shirley an option to buy the South Forbes Road property, and the lawsuit says Shirley would have exercised the option had the fire not happened. The fire rendered Shirley “financially unable to exercise the option,” the lawsuit says.
The suit seeks a jury trial and an amount “equal to the economic monetary losses incurred by Shirley Enterprises as a direct and proximate result of the spread of said fire to the Viking Wholesale Property, together with interest,” which “exceeds the sum of $6 million.”
Shirley’s suit is not the first filed in connection with the fire. In December, Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance filed suit against the stockyards and Dadisman. In that suit, Liberty Mutual says it paid more than $500,000 to Jennette, the owner of property leased to Shirley, on a policy.
Slim’s Towing Inc. another neighboring business that was damaged, and Bertha Mason of Lexington, have sought to join the Liberty Mutual suit. Mason seeks compensation of $3,950 for a Volvo that was destroyed in the fire.
Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone presides over the suits related to the fire.
In September, work began on a new state-of-the-art stockyards complex on Ironworks Pike in northern Fayette County, near the Scott County line.
Billing itself as “the largest cattle market east of the Mississippi River,” the stockyards has been an economic engine for the state’s agriculture industry. The new stockyards is scheduled to open later this year.Big stockyards fire challenges Lexington firefighters