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Pennsylvania company to pay $160 million after fatal truck explosion

29 June 2018

U-Haul Co. of Pennsylvania will pay a record $160 million in a settlement after a food truck exploded nearly four years ago, killing its operators, a mother and daughter, and injuring 11 people. The amount is the highest pre-verdict settlement in Pennsylvania, attorneys for the plaintiffs said on June 27. 

Stock image
Stock image

The July 1, 2014, explosion was caused by a ruptured propane tank, which was attached to the truck and was overfilled. The plaintiffs alleged that the cylinder lacked essential safety devices and was improperly filled, in violation of federal regulations.

Of the $160 million, $36.47 million will be paid to the estates of the deceased, representing the largest pre-verdict wrongful-death settlement in state court history, according to attorneys.
In another record amount, a male who was a minor when he was injured will receive $69.17 million, the largest individual pre-verdict settlement in state court history. This victim had burns on more than 65% of his body, was badly scarred and disfigured, and has undergone many operations with more scheduled for the future.

Separately, a female who is still a minor and was injured will receive $54.35 million, the largest settlement ever for a minor in state court history, attorneys said.

A U-Haul spokesperson said in an emailed statement: “U-Haul and its insurance carriers worked to provide a monetary settlement, and all injured parties have been compensated. … The exact events surrounding the 2014 tragedy may never be known. While U-Haul routinely fills propane cylinders for the food industry, U-Haul maintains that it did not fill the propane cylinder involved in this tragedy.”

The settlement was reached before a Philadelphia mediator and must be approved by a Philadelphia Orphans’ Court judge.

Separately, on June 12, U-Haul of Pennsylvania and Miguel Rivera, the general manager of U-Haul’s Hunting Park location, were charged in federal court with violating hazardous-materials regulations. One of the alleged violations relates to the food-truck explosion.

U-Haul’s attorney said the company would be entering a plea of not guilty.

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