ConAgra Says It Will Appeal|$179 Million Judgment

     EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (CN) – A federal jury awarded almost $179 million to three men who were burned in a grain elevator explosion in 2010; ConAgra said it would appeal.
     The men claimed ConAgra’s grain elevator, near the Mississippi River in Chester, Ill., had not been properly cleaned in 20 years and that proper safety cautions were not taken when the temperature of the grain started rising and a strange odor was noticed before the April 27, 2010 explosion.
     The verdicts included $101 million in punitive damages.
     John W. Jentz, of St. Peter, Minn., who suffered burns over 70 to 75 percent of his body, was awarded $75.5 million, including $34.3 million in punitive damages.
     Justin Becker received $66.9 million and his wife, Amanda Becker, was awarded $237,500.
     Robert Schmidt, of Hutchinson, Minn. was awarded $36.2 million, including $33.3 million in punitive damages, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
     “Clearly, this accident was tragic,” ConAgra told the newspaper in a statement. “However, we do not agree with the verdict or the damages. Specifically, we do not believe our actions caused the injuries, and we will appeal this outcome.”

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