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Former ConAgra workers win $14M in plant explosion suit

Posted April 20, 2012

The ConAgra plant in Garner was heavily damaged by a June 9, 2009, explosion that killed three workers and a contractor and injured dozens. The company later closed the plant.
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— A jury has awarded seven former ConAgra workers a total of $14.6 million in compensatory damages for injuries they suffered in an explosion at the company's Garner plant three years ago.

Three workers and a contractor were killed in the June 9, 2009, explosion, and dozens of others were injured.

Investigators determined that workers installing a water heater at the plant released natural gas inside the building as they purged a line, and a spark from nearby machinery caused the blast.

The seven workers sued Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., which was handling the installation at the plant.

Jurors last week awarded more than $7.5 million to Leonard Spruill, more than $4.5 million to Anthony Smith, $959,785 to Patricia Crosier, $518,437 to Brenda Brockington, $475,311 to Shelia Lynn, $354,101 to John Hooks and $313,246 to Tammie Lynn, according to court documents.

The jury will return to Johnston County Superior Court in June to consider assessing punitive damages in the case.

ConAgra shuttered the plant last year and shifted production of its Slim Jim beef jerky products to Ohio. At its peak, the Garner plant employed about 700 people.

The Omaha, Neb.-based company donated the 450,000-square-foot plant and the surrounding 106 acres to Garner and agreed to pay the town $3 million toward building a planned community center.

Garner officials are considering razing the plant to redevelop the site for other industries.


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  • lancej270 Apr 20, 2012

    it will be interesting to see how many times this decision will be appealed? They deserve every dime!

  • down2earth Apr 20, 2012

    Why were these people's names and the amounts they were awarded listed? That's just crazy!

  • HappyGirl08 Apr 20, 2012

    I wonder why the differences in what they were awarded. I guess severity of injury?

  • North Carolina Cutie Apr 20, 2012

    You have to know the ones that lost their lives families were compensated it was no ones business how much they recieved.

  • dirkdiggler Apr 20, 2012

    It'd be nice to see some money going to the families of those killed in this horrible accident as well.