$16 Million for Wrongful Death of Sons Killed in a Corn Bin

A jury awarded $16 million to 2 families ($8 million each) whose sons died in a corn bin. The jury rightfully determined that the tragic accident that took these young lives was preventable.

On the morning of July 28, the manager of the 500,000-bushel grain bin opened 2 holes in the floor to accelerate the flow of corn. He later told 4 workers, including the two teens who died, to go inside the bin to break up the clumps. They did as they were told.

When one of the teens fell face-first into the corn, the other teen jumped into the corn to try and save him. One of the workers ran to tell the manager, who turned on one of 2 sump pumps, creating a sinkhole in the corn. They boys were sucked in and suffocated.

OSHA investigated the accident and found that the company that hired the boys, Haasbach LLC, did not train the teens, did not provide safety harnesses and failed to take other safety measures in violation of federal law.

The families filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Haasbach LLC, and later added Consolidated Grain and Barge Co., the renter of the corn bin, as another defendant. Haasbach LLC settled with the families prior to trial, but Consolidated Grain and Barge did not. At trial, the jury determined that Consolidated Grain and Barge Co.was legally responsible (liable) for the wrongful deaths of the 2 teens and awarded each family $8 million.

To raise awareness about grain bin deaths, the sister of one of the teens created the Grain Handling Safety Coalition, a group of public and private organizations in Illinois working to prevent grain bin accidents through education and outreach. OSHA Region V is a participant.

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Category: Accidents
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