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Mayfield candle factory employees file lawsuit against company after tornado destroys building, leaves 8 dead

The 10-page class-action lawsuit alleges the candle factory, owned by Mayfield Consumer Products, was indifferent to the safety of its employees.

MAYFIELD, Ky. — Survivors of the Mayfield candle factory collapse have filed the first lawsuit against their company after eight people were killed during a tornado that struck late Friday night.

The 10-page class-action lawsuit alleges the candle factory, owned by Mayfield Consumer Products, was indifferent to the safety of its employees.

"[I'm] frustrated and kind of desperate right now," said Elijah Johnson. Johnson said he filed the lawsuit on behalf of his colleagues, to represent those who are no longer around to share their stories. 

As one of the 110 workers inside the building when the storm hit, Johnson said he was injured after the roof of the factory fell on his back during the tornado.

RELATED: Mayfield factory employees describe last-minute life-saving decisions, chaotic moments leading up to tornado

He said he chose to join the lawsuit because his manager threatened him on the night of the tornado.

"I almost died that night because they wouldn't let us go and leave the work premises," Johnson said. "The authority told us that we couldn't leave and if we left we were gonna be terminated."

The lawsuit says the company "knew or should have known about the expected tornado and the danger of serious bodily injuries and death to its employees.” It goes on to say Mayfield Consumer Products "showed flagrant indifference to the rights" of employees "with a subjective awareness that such conduct will result in human death and/or bodily injuries.”  

Credit: AP
This combination of satellite images provided by Maxar Technologies shows Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory and nearby buildings, in Mayfield, Ky., on Jan. 28, 2017, top, and below on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, after a tornado caused heavy damage in the area. (Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies via AP)

Amos Jones, one of the attorneys behind the lawsuit, said the areas of the factory where employees were told to shelter in place during the storm were "not secure."

"There were 100 plus people in a factory on a slab during a tornado with a public siren going," he said.

The spokesperson representing Mayfield Consumer Products did not respond to emails, text messages or calls Thursday to make a comment on the lawsuit. Earlier this week, the spokesperson told WHAS11 that employees could have left at any time without punishment.

Contact reporter Paula Vasan at pvasan@whas11.com. Follow her on Twitter (@PaulaVasan) and Facebook.

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