AC propane explosion suit settled at 11th hour

Thursday, September 21, 2000

More than two years after a propane explosion ripped through a turkey farm in rural Albert City, the lawsuits are over. Both sides reached a settlement this week just as the trial was about to begin.

Jury selection began Tuesday at the Buena Vista County Courthouse, but it never was completed. When the potential jurors assembled after lunch, Judge Joe Straub told them a settlement had been reached and that the jurors were dismissed.

Plaintiffs in the case included the estates of Tom Archer and Larry Walsh, the two Albert City firefighters killed in the blast, as well as six other injured firefighters.

There had been a laundry list of defendants in the case, but this had been whittled down to Thermogas and two of its sister companies by the time the suit reached court. Thermogas had installed the 18,000 gallon propane tank that exploded on the Feather Creek Farm, which is owned by brothers Craig and Terry Herrig.

The settlement was finalized Tuesday morning, according to Willis Hamilton, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. The terms of the settlement are confidential to comply with the defendants' request, he added.

If a settlement had not been reached, Hamilton said the trial would have been a "challenge."

"We expected the trial to last eight weeks, so I think everyone was relieved that they didn't have to spend eight weeks in court," he said. "It was a long haul and a lot of work - it was difficult, obviously, for everyone involved.

Read the rest of this article in the 9/21 Pilot Tribune.

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