A man injured in a dust fire and explosion at a Georgia Pacific plant in Corrigan, TX in 2014 received a $39.7 million verdict by a Texas jury last week in a suit alleging that makers of dust collection and fire suppression systems at the facility contributed to the incident.
Two workers were killed and seven others received injuries during the incident on Apr. 26, 2014 after a dust collection system in a baghouse exploded and caught fire. The plaintiff, Ralph Figgs, was standing near the equipment when the incident occurred and “engulfed in flames,” the man’s lawyers, Arnold & Itkin LLP, said in a press release.
“The verdict sends a strong message that the public will not tolerate companies that design flawed products and deny responsibility,” Attorney Kyle Findley, who represents Figgs, told Lufkin, TX-based ABC News affiliate KTRE. “You can’t cut corners when it comes to peoples’ lives.”
Covering past and future medical expenses, wages, and physical pain, suffering, and other negative impacts, the jury’s verdict impacts two equipment makers that provided systems and installed equipment at the plant.
Spark detection and suppression systems maker GreCon Inc. will pay 26% of the verdict for its role in the incident. Equipment provided by the company failed during the fire and explosion. Aircon Inc., which designed and installed the dust collection system involved in the fire and blast, was assigned 51% of the blame, KTRE reported. The remaining 23% of the verdict will be paid by Georgia Pacific.
“Over the course of three weeks, we pointed to failures in the system, arguing that the dust collection system failed to meet numerous industry standards and that the fire prevention system had been installed in an unsafe location,” the law firm said in a press release. “After deliberating, the jury agreed and found both of the defendants (Aircon Inc. and GreCon Inc.) negligent of unsafe design and failure to warn the plant of related hazards.”
The jury found that the equipment failed to adhere to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and FM Global standards.