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Settlement meeting set in International Paper blast lawsuit

JACKSON — A settlement conference is scheduled Thursday in a federal lawsuit brought by a man who was injured in an explosion at an International Paper Co. mill in Mississippi in 2008.

Jeb D. Slade was a contract worker when a 12-story recovery boiler blew up as it was being restarted after annual maintenance at the Redwood plant on May 3, 2008. The blast killed 28-year-old Marcus Christopher Broome of Bolton and injured nearly two dozen others.

U.S. District Court records say a settlement conference in Slade’s lawsuit is scheduled for Thursday morning in federal court in Natchez.

The lawsuit claims International Paper recklessly ignited the boiler when it was filled with combustible gas.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in November 2008 that the boiler didn’t have adequate steam. OSHA proposed a $77,000 fine for two alleged violations. The company contested that and a formal settlement was reached for a $14,000 fine, according to OSHA records.

Slade was on the sixth floor of the plant as part of his job with Cumming, Ga.-based RMR Mechanical Inc. when the blast happened. The lawsuit alleges Slade suffered a traumatic brain injury and other wounds in the blast and that he was totally disabled for two years. He also claims to have permanently lost some of his cognitive and reasoning power and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder with nightmares and flashbacks.

Slade’s attorney, Jim Nobles, declined to comment on his cases.

International Paper spokesman Tom Ryan said in a statement, “All issues related to this matter have been resolved with the exception of Slade. We hope to put this matter behind us in the near future.”

Ryan wouldn’t say how many lawsuits were filed related to the explosion, or provide information about the outcomes, but an International Paper spokeswoman told The Associated Press in January 2010 that 10 suits had been filed at that time.

Slade’s lawsuit was filed in January 2011.

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