Jury: $181M to 3 hurt in Ill. grain elevator blast


EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) -- A federal jury has sided against ConAgra Foods Inc. and a contractor in awarding $180.8 million in damages to three men injured in a 2010 grain elevator explosion in southern Illinois.

Jurors in East St. Louis deliberated about 10 hours after a month-long trial before returning a verdict Friday favoring Minnesotans John Jentz and Robert Schmidt. The third plaintiff was John Becker, whose hometown wasn't immediately available.

The lawsuit alleged the men were removing equipment from a grain bin in April 2010 at the ConAgra-owned site in Chester when it exploded into flames. Jentz sustained burns over roughly three-quarters of his body.

Officials with Nebraska-based ConAgra say the accident was tragic but the company doesn't agree with the verdict or damages. ConAgra plans to appeal.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Current Conditions