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Mother of masonry worker settles wrongful-death suit against IHP Industrial and three others for $2.25 million

Sunday, November 18, 2007

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The mother of a masonry worker killed in an explosion at a nearly completed pork processing plant has settled a wrongful-death lawsuit for $2.25 million.

Melinda Fisher's son, Andrew Bauer, of Stewartsville, died Oct. 12, 2005, as he finished a wall at the Triumph Foods plant. He was 24.

Investigators determined that gas leaking from an uncapped valve fueled the explosion, which left 14 others injured.

"There's no amount of money that can compensate for the loss of a child ...," Fisher told the St. Joseph News-Press after a Buchanan County judge approved the settlement Friday morning. "All you can do is to try and get on with your life."

Plumbing contractor IHP Industrial, of St. Joseph, will pay the largest portion of the settlement, $1.5 million.

The other defendants are Triumph Foods, construction management firm Epstein and Sons and Southern Union Co., the parent company of Missouri Gas Energy. They each agreed to pay $250,000.

The settlement, which was reached through a moderator about three weeks ago, was entered Friday in court.

Lawsuits filed by the injured survivors of the blast are still pending. Those lawsuits name the same defendants as Fisher's and claim the companies were negligent in failing to follow procedural safeguards that could have prevented the explosion.

Triumph, meanwhile, has several pending lawsuits. One of the cases, filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, is against Epstein and Sons, Missouri Gas Energy and about 20 other defendants, mostly insurance companies.

In that suit, Triumph is asking for a judge to determine that Triumph isn't liable for Bauer's death or the injuries of the 14 workers.

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