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Burned worker sues Minnesota sugar plant for injuries

A man who suffered severe burns when he was sprayed by scalding beet juice at American Crystal Sugar is suing the company for negligence. The incident occurred at the East Grand Forks plant on Jan. 29, 2013.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff was injured while replacing a drainpipe part on a container, which was in a location that required him to squeeze into a tight space. Once the part was replaced, scalding beet juice sprayed down on him from the container. The confined space made it impossible for him to quickly escape, and he suffered second- and third-degree burns.

The plaintiff states he was a contract worker for Strom Engineering Corp., which provided staff to American Crystal Sugar during an employee lockout, and was, therefore, not entitled to medical and disability benefits issued to union employees at the sugar company. He is seeking $2.5 million to cover past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of wages, loss of earning capacity, disability and permanent disfigurement. He is also seeking damages from the maker of the equipment involved in the accident, Wanzek Construction.

As a result of the accident, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry cited American Crystal Sugar for occupational safety violations. They were fined $10,000.

Employees who suffer an on-the-job injury could be entitled to workers' compensation benefits to cover their medical expenses and a portion of their lost wages. However, in some circumstances, such as an accident involving a third party, it may be necessary to bring a personal injury lawsuit in order to receive compensation. Anyone involved in a workplace accident may wish to meet with an attorney to discuss his or her best course of legal action.

Source:, "Man sues for $2.5 million over burn accident at American Crystal," Garrett Richie, Dec. 3, 2014

Source: CBS Minnesota, "Worker burned by beet juice sues American Crystal", December 03, 2014

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