North Carolina Workers Compensation Claims Sure to Follow Catastrophic Explosion at ConAgra Plant

June 11, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The June 9, 2009 explosion of a Slim Jim plant in Garner, North Carolina will undoubtedly lead to NC workers’ compensation and wrongful death claims and could result in a drawn out court battle between the giant food manufacturer and the victims of the tragic blast.

Facts about the Blast

Investigators still don’t know what caused the 500,000 square foot building to explode Tuesday morning. One report suggests that an unidentified person called ConAgra’s Omaha, Nebraska headquarters over the weekend and threatened to bomb the Garner plant. Authorities are investigating this threat.

All told, 38 people were significantly injured in the blast. Three have died from injuries sustained. Four of the 38 injured survivors are being treated for severe second and third degree burns. Several firefighters at the scene got sick from ammonia fumes. The ConAgra building is still being tested for structural integrity: on-site investigators don’t want to risk getting crushed or injured while researching the source of the blast.

Accidental or Premeditated?

It remains to be seen whether the ConAgra explosion was some kind of mechanical or chemical accident, or whether it was an act of domestic terrorism. The victims of the blast and the families of the victims who were killed will no doubt seek compensation for pain and suffering, injuries, potential wages lost, therapies, and other damages.

While a giant company like ConAgra no doubt carries workers’ compensation insurance for contingencies like these, this situation is so much bigger than standard North Carolina workers’ compensation cases that the legal wrangling will almost certainly be broader in scope than is typical.

Who Will Pay?

• If the explosion was caused by negligence on ConAgra’s part, then the company and its insurers will likely have to pay out claims.
• If, on the other hand, a defective machine, component, or chemical caused the blast at the NC Slim Jim plant, then other entities will likely be held liable.
• And if it turns out that the incident was indeed an act of terrorism or subterfuge, the claimants’ case would be altered in many regards.

Hundreds of Other Claims?

It’s also significant to note that over 900 people work at the plant. Assuming that the plant will be out of operation for a while, pending the investigation, these employees won’t be able to work and collect paychecks. They, too, may seek compensation for wages missed, considerably complicating this already tangled matter.

2 Dead, 1 Missing after Slim Jim Plant Explosion, June 9, 2009, CNN

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

Related Web Resources:

Slim Jims

Con Agra


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