Wisconsin Milling Company Settles Lawsuit After the Death of Five Employees
A Wisconsin milling company has reached a settlement of $940,000 with the state Justice Department following a lawsuit stemming from violations at their Cambria corn mill plant. According to reports, state inspectors uncovered 30 violations in 2019 for Didion Milling Inc., including issues with emissions, record-keeping, and reporting.
The lawsuit was initially filed by the Justice Department in November 2020. However, the settlement requires approval from the Legislature's finance committee, a requirement introduced in 2018 to curtail the authority of the Attorney General.
The legal action revolves around a tragic incident in May 2017 when an explosion at the Didion Milling plant resulted in the deaths of five employees. Federal inspectors said an accumulation of grain dust caused the explosion. Corn dust is combustible; if concentrations of grain dust in the air reach a high level, a spark or other ignition source can cause it to catch fire and explode. Federal regulations require grain mill operators to perform regular cleanings to reduce dust accumulations that could fuel a blast.
A federal grand jury indicted the company on charges of fraud and conspiracy, stating that they had neglected proper plant maintenance and falsified records to make it look as if the cleanings were completed. Despite the allegations, Didion Milling Inc. has consistently maintained that the explosion was an unintended occurrence.
The upcoming trial, scheduled for October, indicates that the legal process is ongoing to determine the outcome of any charges brought against the company. The settlement represents a significant step in addressing the aftermath of the explosion and the subsequent legal actions taken by the state Justice Department.