Around two dozen workers at the ConAgra Foods plant in Garner filed suit today against the town and several contractors and component suppliers. The suit alleges negligence that caused a fatal explosion at the plant last summer.
This is the second suit filed in connection with the explosion at the plant on June 9. Three ConAgra workers and a contractor were killed. Previously two other workers sued a mechanical contractor that is not named as a defendant in this suit filed today.
It was determined by federal investigators the cause of the explosion was caused by contractors venting natural gas inside the plant while installing the water heater.
The state Department of Labor found a total of 27 workplace safety violations at the Garner plant. ConAgra agreed to pay a $106,440 fine and implement policy and procedure changes to address safety issues with contractors.
ConAgra is not named as a defendant in either lawsuit.
The new suit alleges that Garner inspectors were inside the ConAgra plant on the day of the explosion and were aware that gas was being improperly vented into the building.
Town inspectors should have also known that employees of one of the contractors, Midsouth Industrial Refrigeration, did not have proper permits and licenses to work on the gas line in the plant.
In addition, other contractors and suppliers named as defendants in the new suit are: Jacobs Engineering Group, Energy Systems Analysts, Freedom Electric, Fireye, Maxton Corporation, Weeks-Williams-Devore, Rockwell Automation, Todd’s Maintenance and Construction LLC, Honeywell International, AJ Antunes & Co, Bacharach, Rexel, IMS Metering Holdings, Invensys Metering Systems N.A., Sensus Metering Systems, Sensus USA and Sensus (Bermuda 2) Ltd.
Garner officials were not available for comment.
ConAgra officials have announced they would close the Garner plant last August, but officials said the damage limited production too much.