ConAgra cleared of 2010 explosion liability

ConAgra cleared of 2010 explosion liability

A US court of appeal ruled ConAgra Foods is not liable for a 2010 fire and explosion in which three workers were seriously injured.

In 2010, ConAgra hired West Side Salvage to help secure the contents of a wheat pellet silo at a facility in Chester, Illinois. The silo had been smouldering for several weeks before it exploded, court documents revealed.

Three people were injured in the incident: Justin Becker, who was employed by West Side, and John Jentz and Robert Schmidt, who were employed by a subcontractor.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago overturned a previous ruling requiring ConAgra to pay US$100m in punitive damages to the injured workers and share responsibility for a further $77m in compensatory damages.

According to the judgement, ConAgra was not legally responsible for the accident because the group had hired a third party, West Side Salvage, to deal with the unsafe conditions in the silo.

Responding to the court's findings, a spokesperson for ConAgra told just-food: "We are pleased with the outcome of the case."