Brothers settle with International Paper

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Published: January 29,2010

Tags: accident, explosion, manufacturing, OSHA, workplace safety

JACKSON — Two brothers injured in a deadly explosion at an International Paper Co. mill have agreed to settle their federal lawsuit.

David and Darren Clark of Mooresville, N.C., agreed to the settlement in a joint motion filed Jan. 27 with International Paper. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Clark brothers were injured when a 12-story recovery boiler blew up as workers tried to restart it after annual maintenance at the Redwood plant near Vicksburg May 3, 2008. One man was killed and nearly two dozen others were hurt.

The boiler didn’t have adequate steam, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA fined International Paper $77,000 for two alleged violations.

The Clark brothers, both in their late 20s, said they were burned on their faces and hands, suffered some hearing loss and were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, among other things.

They sued in U.S. District Court in Mississippi Jan. 26, 2009. The lawsuit claimed International Paper recklessly ignited the boiler when it was filled with combustible gas.

In separate filings Wednesday, each brother said “his claim against International Paper is doubtful, disputed and can not be readily collected, and that the proposed compromise settlement would be in his best interest.”

The agreement would also release their former employer, Cumming, Ga.-based RMR Mechanical Inc., and its insurer, Zurich American Insurance Co., from liability under the Mississippi workers’ compensation laws. Zurich American is a subsidiary of Swiss insurance giant Zurich Financial Services.

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