ConAgra workers sue over explosion

ConAgra Foods explosion

April 8, 2010 3:42:52 PM PDT
About two dozen ConAgra workers filed a lawsuit Thursday against more than a dozen contractors and the Town of Garner.

Four workers died and dozens more were hurt in an explosion at ConAgra's Garner Slim Jim factory last June. Investigators later said workers installing a water heater vented natural gas inside the building - causing the blast.

The more than 200 page lawsuit claims negligence that led to emotional trauma and/or injuries - sometimes permanent injuries - to the plaintiffs.

Among the defendants is Jacobs Engineering Group, which the lawsuit claims was responsible for the selection, oversight, and monitoring of the installation of the water heater. Lawyers allege that Jacobs failed to properly monitor the installation and permitted the purging of a gas line that allowed natural gas to build up inside the building.

The lawsuit also alleges that water heater maker Energy Systems Analysts, Inc. was responsible for purging the gas line.

The Town of Garner is alleged to have allowed gas line welders who were not properly licensed to work on the project.

ConAgra is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit which asks for damages greater than $10,000 for each plaintiff.

ConAgra recently announced it would be closing the plant and donating the land to Garner. All Slim Jim production will be moved to another state.

About 400 people currently work at the factory. Slim Jims have been made in Garner for more than 50 years.

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