Victims of Chester, Illinois grain bin accident awarded $180M

8:05 AM, Jun 4, 2012   |    comments
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By Dana Dean

Chester, Ill (KSDK) -- A federal jury has awarded more than $180 million to the victims of a grain elevator explosion.

Two of those victims spoke publicly for the first time about the judgment in a press conference on Monday.

The plant is owned by one of America's largest food companies. Lawyers for the victims say the grain bin at the ConAgra-owned site had not been properly cleaned in two decades. They say company officials knew the seriousness of what was happening and never conveyed that information to their workers so they would avoid injury. The lawsuit alleged the men were removing equipment from the grain bin when it exploded into flames.

Two of the victims, John Jentz and Robert Schmidt, both of Minnesota, were at a press conference at 10:30 am in Chicago. The April 2010 explosion is said to have burned Jentz on 75% of his body.

Our NBC affiliate was at the press conference at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago. This will be the first time the victims will talk about the record $180 million verdict in Federal Court in St. Louis. The third man injured in the incident, Justin Becker, was represented by other counsel.

ConAgra doesn't agree with the verdict or damages. They plan to appeal.



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