North Carolina Worker’s Compensation Case over ConAgra Plant Explosion Grows More Complicated

June 22, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The North Carolina Department of Labor is reportedly deep in the process of investigating ten different entities that might be liable for damages in the June 9 explosion at a North Carolina Slim Jim plant that killed three workers and injured many more. The explosion has been regarded one of the most prominent worker safety failures in the state’s recent history and has merited a federal investigation.

Three companies in particular may shortly face a variety of workers’ compensation claims stemming from the accident, according to reports. Jacobs Engineering Group, Southern Industrial Constructors, and Energy Systems Analysts may all be charged with negligence with respect to the failure of the Slim Jim plant’s gas lines. (Investigators believe that a water heater gas pump accidentally allowed gas to leak into the plant’s pump room, setting the stage for the explosion.) Investigators suspect that employee negligence may also have contributed to the leak.

An attorney representing two injured claimants has publicly hinted that Jacobs Engineering Group and Energy Systems Analysts did not have the proper licensing to engineer gas line hookups and that their lack of experience and certification may have precipitated the dangerous conditions that led to the massive explosion. So far, the three aforementioned companies and other potential defendants (including ConAgra) have parsed their public statements carefully. Given the fluid dynamics of this complicated and likely long term North Carolina worker’s compensation case — as well as the amount of money potentially at stake — prospective claimants and defendants want to avoid accidental admissions of guilt or other admissions that might compromise their legal leverage.

Third Body Found in Slim Jim Plant Explosion Rubble, FOX News, June 10, 2009

Gas Leak Caused Fatal North Carolina Slim Jim Plant Explosion, Insurance Journal, June 15, 2009

More Web Resources:

Energy Systems Analysts

Southern Industrial Constructors


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