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Thursday, April 1, 2010 - 11:43am

Settlements Reached In 18 Blast Cases

Updated: 4 years ago.
Imperial Sugar has no comment on news that 18 litigants have settled claims against the company over the 2008 explosion at its sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Ga. (photo U.S. Chemical Safety Board)

Imperial Sugar has settled claims with 18 litigants in cases stemming from a deadly refinery explosion near Savannah two years ago.

Fourteen people died in the explosion and fire at the Port Wentworth sugar refinery.

Workplace safety officials later blamed the company for lax safety precautions.

Injured workers and victims' families sued.

Lawyer Brent Savage represents 12 litigants who haven't settled.

He says, the confidential settlements won't affect cases headed to trial.

"My clients are really badly hurt. The medical bills are millions and millions of dollars," Savage says. "And senior management clearly had warnings about the hazardous conditions and ignored them."

Savage says, his clients aren't willing to settle for what the company is offering.

"I don't view burning somebody badly and then saying, 'Well, we'll pay for your medical bills after we burn you badly.' That's just not me," Savannah says. "I mean, the OSHA report is the third largest fine in the history of the United States."

A May trial date looms for several unsettled cases.

Besides Imperial Sugar, several contracting companies also face legal challenges from the 2008 explosion.

Imperial Sugar has contested an $8 million fine by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

A spokeswoman for the company said today that Imperial Sugar has no comment on its legal matters.

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