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ConAgra found liable for $108.9 million in lawsuit over fatal 2009 North Carolina plant explosion

29 March 2016

On March 25, a jury in Nebraska found US food giant ConAgra Foods responsible for the June 2009  explosion at the Slim Jim plant in Garner, North Carolina. Jacobs Engineering, a contractor at the plant, paid $108 million to settle lawsuits with affected parties after the gas explosion at the plant, which killed four and injured dozens, but the jurors have now found ConAgra liable.

The Slim Jim plant after the explosion - Image: CSB
The Slim Jim plant after the explosion - Image: CSB

California-based Jacobs Engineering brought the case against Nebraska-based ConAgra, claiming it was not responsible for the explosion, which was caused by a natural gas leak during the installation of a water heater. The Douglas County jury agreed, and found ConAgra negligent and liable for $108.9 million in damages.

The Omaha World-Herald said this case could represent the largest-ever damages ruling in Nebraska legal history.

ConAgra spokesman Dan Hare said: “While we respect the jury’s decision, we have several strong grounds for appeal, which we plan to pursue.”

ConAgra said last year that it would move its headquarters from Omaha to Chicago by the end of 2016. It has also cut 1,500 jobs and embarked on a cost-cutting plan to save $300 million annually.

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