AI Wins $141M Verdict for Deridder Plant Explosion Survivors

Arnold & Itkin is glad to announce trial attorney Kyle Findley obtained a jury award of $141 million for our clients related to a paper mill incident that occurred seven years ago.

In February 2017, our clients were working at a paper and containerboard plant owned and operated by Boise Packaging & Newsprint and Packaging Corporation of America. During plant shutdown, several contractors were brought on site to conduct repairs and maintenance for the annual turnaround. Turnarounds are typically a hazardous time for any industrial facility. These workers were working near a foul condensate tank that was known to contain flammable liquids and vapors, but the real hazard was that "hot work”—work involving potential ignition sources—was being performed above the tank.

Tragically but predictably, the tank exploded, ending three lives and injuring many of the other workers. The situation parallels a 2008 explosion at a Wisconsin facility also owned and managed by PCA. Then, as now, a tank with a history of emitting flammable gases exploded because plant management ordered employees to keep working as hot work was conducted nearby.

Winning 10x What the Defendants Offered

This case was complex, involving nine plaintiffs that were contractors at the facility on the day of the event. Despite truly astounding levels of negligence on display, the defendants seemed unmotivated to make things right with our clients. They pointed to a defense of “statutory employer” citing a contract that made the claims barred through the workers compensation statute, preventing the ability to sue for negligence. They offered practically nothing to our clients before trial and only offered a little more after Kyle Findley delivered closing statements. The offers were refused both times, because it was not just compensation and we were confident that the jury would see what our clients needed.

In the end, they awarded our clients more than 10 times the defendants' final offer.

This result once again proves the life-changing power of our approach. Because we poured so much effort and resources into preparing this case for trial, we confidently refused the defendants' inadequate offer. Even when other plaintiffs had their claims dismissed, we pressed forward. As a result, the jury awarded our clients exactly what they deserved, holding the defendants accountable far more strongly than any settlement they offered to pay.

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