A federal jury awarded $180 million Thursday to three cleaning company workers who were burned when an Illinois grain elevator exploded in 2010, according to St. Louis Today.
The verdicts came following a trial that lasted for a month. Lawyers for the three men had claimed the elevator was not properly cleaned for 20 years and that the owner had not taken proper precautions to ensure the safety of employees.
The company released a statement that safety is their first priority, and they do not believe their actions caused the injuries.
A lawyer representing two of the men said the workers on scene had not been properly instructed about what was happening in the hot bin when the temperature of the grain started rising and smoke was noticed. He said the company officials realized the seriousness of the situation but did not convey that information or tell them what to do to avoid injury.
One of the employees suffered burns to 70 to 75 percent of his body and had “disabling injuries” and numerous surgeries. The article did not specify the injuries to the other men.
A company that employed the three men was hired to clean the silo, located along the Mississippi River, after palletized wheat middling started to decompose. The silo began heating March 12, and the men claim the company should have immediately removed the middlings but wanted to wait for a better price. They also allegedly would not douse the smoldering wheat to avoid destroying it.