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Jury Awards $180 Million to 3 Injured in IL Grain Elevator Explosion

The Chicago Tribune reports that three workers who were severely injured in a southern Illinois workplace accident have been awarded a $180 million settlement. The workers were badly burned in an April 2010 grain elevator explosion, and the federal jury in the Southern District of Illinois found that ConAgra Foods, the grain elevator owner, and a subcontractor were negligent. The three men arrived to clean out a grain bin that they were unaware was smoldering for days and exploded while they were removing their tools.

According to the Tribune, a chemical reaction ignited the grain pellets inside the silo, which sent a strange smell and smoke through the grain elevator complex for six weeks before the men arrived. Despite these warning signs and complaints from employees, managers never called the fire department to investigate and did not warn the three contractors before sending them into the silo to work. A plant supervisor was on the phone with the fire department just as the silo exploded on April 27.

The trial lasted for a month and the jury deliberated for 10 hours before reaching their decision. The three each received millions in compensatory damages, and $100 million in punitive damages will be split amongst the men. Officials with ConAgra said in a statement they plan on appealing the decision, noting that the accident was tragic, but that they do not believe their actions caused the injuries.

The workers’ compensation attorneys in Chicago with the Bradley Law Firm recognize how devastating a workplace accident can be and the importance of receiving financial assistance to help a worker recover from his or her injuries. If you have been injured in an IL on-the-job accident and need assistance with your workers’ compensation claim, call us at (312) 252-1488 to discuss your case.