A grain bin explosion has produced a $180 million jury verdict for three injured workers. The workers were employed by a contractor at the Con Agra facility in Chester in 2010, when they were burned in an explosion. Their lawyer, Robert A. Clifford, said Monday at his office in Chicago that the jury believed the company could have avoided this.
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“Con Agra had been repeatedly told during the six weeks preceding the explosions to call the fire department and have the fire department do an inspection of this bin because they had a ticking time bomb on their hands,” he said. The jury made the award after a month-long trial in federal court in East St. Louis. The plaintiffs discussed the verdict at their lawyers’ office in Chicago, saying no amount of money can truly compensate them for their pain, disability and disfigurement. One of the plaintiffs, John W. Jentz, 38, of Minnesota, suffered burns over 70 percent of his body. He has undergone numerous skin grafts, but he can rarely go outside, since his skin is unable to handle temperature much different from room temperature. Jentz spent months recuperating and undergoing therapy in the hospital in St. Louis.