By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
"Koch [was] aware of the public relations debacle this explosion had caused and [was] mindful of the potential profit loss if the pipeline would be forever shut down," the suit states. "Accordingly...Koch began to take immediate actions designed to quell any potential citizen-related legal and political actions by setting into motion the most unconscionable, fraudulent, and sinister plan one could imagine a $25 billion company could perpetrate against hard-working-class citizens," the suit alleges.
Specifically, Bergman says, the company hired several local residents to inform other residents that they should settle with the company without contacting attorneys. Residents were told that if they did not participate, they would not receive a penny from Koch and they would put their neighbors' settlements at risk.
"A lot of these people have a 10th-grade education, and they took what they could get," says Smith's daughter, Barbara Kelly, who lives in Mesquite. "This has affected our family and other families in so many ways. There has been so much emotional stress and turmoil in that neighborhood, the police set up a substation at the end of the street so they could handle all the disturbances. The subdivision my father's in is called Beautiful Acres. He now calls it Pitiful Acres. It's been hard on him, but he has always had a sense of humor."