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$180 Million Settlement Awarded to Injured Illinois Workers

Earlier this month, after a month-long trial and almost 10 hours of deliberations, a jury in the Southern District of Illinois awarded $180 million in damages to three workers who were badly burned in a 2010 grain elevator explosion, reported the Chicago Tribune.

The verdict must be paid by the defendants, ConAgra Foods – the grain elevator owner – and a subcontractor, who were found to have been negligent. ConAgra is an American packaged foods company that makes and sells products under various brand names, including foods packaged under the popular labels of Chef Boyardee, Reddi-Wip, and Slim Jim. ConAgra Foods products are available in supermarkets, as well as restaurants and food service establishments.

Apparently, in this particular accident the three workers were on a crew cleaning out a grain bin that, unbeknownst to them, had been smoldering for days and exploded while the three were removing their tools, said the Chicago Tribune. At some point prior to the explosion, a chemical reaction set fire to the pellets of grain inside the silo, which is ultimately what caused the blast. Nevertheless, despite the fact that other employees had allegedly complained to ConAgra about a burning smell, and the fact that managers may have had other warning signs about the potential fire, managers on behalf of ConAgra never warned the three contractors before sending them into the silo to work, and didn’t call firefighters to the scene to check to see if the grain was ablaze, prior to the explosion.

The three men suffered severe burns to their skin and lungs; one man suffered burns that covered more than 70 percent of his body, and had to endure multiple skin grafts and grueling rehabilitation.

In this particular situation, as in other cases of injuries that happen on properties managed by others, a significant branch of Chicago personal injury law known as Illinois premises liability law allows victims to be compensated if the negligence of the property owner was the cause of that harm. In general, Illinois premises liability law may be triggered if it can be shown that the property owners or managers either failed to maintain the property, created unsafe conditions that caused the injury, or knew about the unsafe hazard but didn’t alert visitors or tenants to this fact. When an accident or injury occurs to a an individual who – at the time of the injury – is on another person’s property, the owner or manager of the property may be liable if it can be proved that their negligence led to the injury. In this situation, ConAgra failed to heed the warning signs about the burning grain, which is why the jury found that they were responsible for the injuries to the three workers.

Our attorneys are thrilled that justice was served in this instance, and have also handled numerous cases and recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for the families of victims wrongfully injured or killed because of someone else’s negligence. In fact, they obtained a $6.0 million settlement for the families of 6 children who died in a tragic apartment fire on Chicago’s north side because the landlords of the building failed to have proper and working smoke detectors in violation of the Chicago Municipal Code and the children were not able to escape the building in time. Additionally, they earned a $2.3 million Chicago fire injury settlement for two boys who were severely burned in a Chicago Housing Authority apartment fire.

If you or a loved one have been injured on the land of another because of the landowner or business owner’s negligence, contact an attorney to discuss your rights under the law. You may be entitled to compensation for your suffering.