3 Men in Grain Belt Explosion Awarded $180M

A jury awarded over $180 million to three men who were injured in a grain belt explosion in 2010

By Alexandria Fisher
|  Monday, Jun 4, 2012  |  Updated 6:17 PM CDT
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Three men cleaning a ConAgra grain pellet storage bin in Chester, Ill., were injured in a 2010 explosion. Phil Rogers reports.

Three men cleaning a ConAgra grain pellet storage bin in Chester, Ill., were injured in a 2010 explosion. Phil Rogers reports.

Three men severely injured in a grain bin explosion in 2010 were awarded $180 million, their attorneys announced Monday.

A jury of 10 returned a verdict Friday in federal court in favor of awarding the money to be split among John Jentz, Robert Schmidt and Justin Becker.

The men were cleaning a ConAgra grain pellet storage bin in Chester, Ill., when an explosion burned and hospitalized the three workers. The men’s attorneys argued the bin had not been cleaned in 20 years.

"ConAgra is a good company and I’m certain that they are truly are regretful of what occurred here but it seems that this thing got away from them because of a lack of appreciation for the harm that could come about," said Attorney Robert Clifford.

According to testimonies, ConAgra deliberately ignored safety concerns presented to them prior to the incident that could have prevented the explosion from occurring.

Jentz, whose burns covered nearly 75 percent of his body, underwent nearly 40 medical procedures and incurred millions in hospital bills.

"As of right now I can’t work, I have to stay in a controlled environment due to the fact that I don’t sweat, I’m extremely sensitive to sun, I still have range of motion issues, strength issues, nerve damage," said Jentz.

Both Jentz and Schmidt said that although no money is worth the price they had to pay, they are thankful justice was served.

“For all three of us to walk out of there that day that was a miracle,” said Schmidt.

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