The attorney for the parents of Peyton Trueblood told ABC 7 News the lawsuit filed against the people they feel are responsible for their child’s death has been dismissed in federal court and moved to state court.
The 21-year-old college student was killed in a pyrotechnic explosion in July of 2015, while working at the TEXAS Musical Drama in Palo Duro Canyon.
“What we encountered is in our amended pleadings we sued two entities, Wald & Company and Ultra-Tec Special Effects,” Attorney James Morris said. “It turned out that Ultra-Tec Special Effects is actually an Alabama company. Because Plaintiff Lisa Trueblood and her deceased child were citizens of Alabama as well, they were no longer diverse from that particular defendant. When that happens, the federal court lacks jurisdiction to proceed on the case.”
Morris said they dismissed the federal case “without prejudice” and refiled in state court in Potter County, in order to proceed with the claim.
The Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation, Inc., producer of TEXAS, can’t be sued due to it’s status as a non-profit organization, according to Morris. He said Texas law provides immunity to non-profits from liability except in certain circumstances.
“What we have done is we’re attempting to hold the parties responsible that we believe are most likely the persons that put in place the set of events that caused her death,” Morris said. “Those are the individuals working with the pyrotechnics issues involving the productions. Those four guys are Blaine Bertrand, Kris Miller, Rick Bertram and Dennis Rice. We have also brought in Wald & Company and Ultra-Tec Special Effects. Walden is the manufacturer of the fireworks. Ultra-Tec is the distributor.”
Morris said their investigation into the liability of the two companies is not complete but they are confident they can gather the information necessary to put the case in front of a jury. He said no settlement has been reached.
“The case is merely moving from federal court to state court for jurisdictional reasons,” Miller said. “We will continue to pursue it in state court until final conclusion.”
Story provided by ABC 7 News.
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