Hermiston Explosion Lawsuit
Our firm has experience handling the what was until recently the only natural gas explosion in the past decade in Oregon - the natural gas explosion caused by Loy Clark Pipeline at NW 23rd x NW Glisan in Portland on October 19, 2016.
Our firm has now been retained by two of the people injured in the Shearer Foods Explosion in Hermiston Oregon that occurred on February 22, 2022. Our investigator has inverterviewed several others injured in the explosion. If you are seeking an experienced Natural Gas Explosion Lawyer for the Hermiston Shearer's Foods Explosion, we are already investigating this Hermiston natural gas explosion.
On February 22, 2022 two natural gas explosions occurred as a result of a rented boiler at Shearer’s Foods, one of the largest food processing plants in Oregon. According to the Umatilla County Fire Department, the boiler explosion was caused from a boiler fueled by natural gas. Our investigation suggests that Shearer Foods had rented this unit from a third party, and that the boiler exploded, destroying the food plant. Since the cause of the food plant explosion was an inherently dangerous defective product apparently owned by a third party, legal cases arising from this explosion do not fall under Workers Compensation as an exclusive legal remedy. Similarly, there are indications that Shearer's Goods acted intentionally in ways that led to the explosion, which potentially removes these cases from Workers' Compensation being the exclusive legal action against the company. For this reason, it is important that people injured in the explosion hire a lawyer with natural gas explosion experience, and not only a workers compensation lawyer.
People injured in the incident may be wondering what is presently known about the pending Shearer Foods explosion lawsuit. Our investigation presently suggests that a leased boiler was fuelling fryers for Kettle chips, and that it was installed in a hallway rather than in an enclosed boiler room. The boiler appeared to be old and rusted when installed. Gas leaks had occurred with factory workers smelling the gas.
The force of the first explosion blew out the windows in the factory and blew open doors. According to one witness, the second blast blew latched doors off their hinges, blew employees out the exterior doors, and started a large section of the factory on fire. People injured by the explosion and fire were taken to Good Shephard Medical Center. Some of the injured people are now getting the care of neurologists and inner ear specialists.
Shearer's Foods is a leading snack food manufacturer with eleven factories, and sells their products in North America, Australia, Asia, Central and South America. The brand manufactures Shearer, Kettle, Frito-Lay, Delicious and Vista branded snack foods, as well as for several private label brands including Walmart and Costco. The company has estimated annual revenues of $500 million per year.
According to the East Oregonian newspaper this was not the first dangerous situation at the Hermiston plant in the past year; "This is not the first major emergency at Shearer’s. In late September, Umatilla County Fire District No. 1 dispatched a hazardous materials team and other emergency responders to a chemical leak at the Shearer’s plant. Three people were transported to Good Shepherd [Hospital] while another two refused transport. Once authorities were able to identify the source of the leak and stop it, Shearer’s was allowed to reopen the following day." Witnesses have not told us that this was related to the boiler that was then shut down and replaced with the leased boiler that exploded in February 2022.
There are few lawyers in the United States with experience handling natural gas explosion cases, and even fewer who have gone to trial on behalf of a person injured in a natural gas explosion. They are not like a normal personal injury case because they are highly complex, involve defective construction or devices and are often fought by billion dollar companies. Our law firm is one of few in Oregon to handle a natural gas explosion cases - most notably several injury cases arising from the natural gas explosion that destroyed NW 23rd and NW Glisan, causing injuries to many people in the blocks around the explosion site. Our firm has handled natural gas explosion cases through trial including cross examinations against expert witnesses working on behalf of natural gas contractors and their insurance companies, including natural gas safety standard witnesses, biomechanics and architecture witnesses, and a variety of medical witnesses including experts on traumatic brain injury, traumatic inner ear injury and spinal injuries resulting from blast forces.
Natural gas explosions are rare because given the high likelihood of deaths and injuries, natural gas is highly regulated by federal and state laws. Natural gas is considered inherently dangerous, and negligence or reckless conduct around natural gas and natural gas pipelines demonstrates a disregard for human safety. Since natural gas explosions are so rare, few lawyers have experience handling the legal or medical issues involved in injury cases caused by natural gas explosions.
In the Hermiston explosion case, additional laws govern the use of natural gas boilers. As this case demonstrates, when a natural gas boiler such as the one in Hermiston is defective, or is not installed in the correct way, they can seriously injure or kill people.
Blast force injuries are not like normal traumatic injuries. People injured by natural gas explosions such as the Shearer Foods explosion in Hermiston should hire an experienced natural gas explosion lawyer that understands these injuries and the likelihood of long term consequences for survivors.
Our lawyer, Aaron DeShaw, is a retired doctor and lectures nationally to both doctors and lawyers on traumatic brain injuries, inner ear injuries and spinal injuries. Our medical literature database used in our trials includes hundreds of medical journal articles and textbooks on the injuries most common in natural gas explosion cases, and includes specific articles on the nature, severity and permanency of injuries caused by blast forces like natural gas explosions. Given his experience as both a doctor and lawyer in serious injury cases, DeShaw has been named to Super Lawyers in multiple years, and has recently been nominated for the American Board of Trial Advocates - one of few plaintiff lawyers in Oregon to achieve that prestigious professional achievement.
Despite increasing forest fires in Oregon, the explosion at the Shearer Foods factory in Hermiston is the largest fire Umatilla County has seen in the last decade. Fire and rescue services at the scene were provided by emergency service departments from Umatilla Rural, Umatilla Tribal, East Umatilla Fire and Rescue, Pendleton, Pilot Rock, Irrigon, Echo, Ione, Lextington, Boardman, Heppner, Morrow County EMS, Hermiston Police Department, Oregon State Police, Umatilla County Sheriff's Office and the City of Hermiston Water Department. There were approximately 60 firefighters working together on this fire.
According to the Hermiston Herald, on March 8, 2022 Shearer Foods CEO terminated 230 people at the plant. Oregon television station KGW reported that 1 in 30 jobs in Hermiston have already been lost because of the explosion. The impact of this explosion deeply impacts Hermiston not only through its workers but in the farms that supplied the factory, the families dependent upon jobs in the factory, and local businesses who had customers who worked at the factory.
Our office is actively investigating this case. If you or a loved one wishes to seek legal representation regarding injuries from the Hermiston Shearer's food factory explosion, please contact us online, call us at (503) 227-1233. Dr. DeShaw has been out to Hermiston to meet with clients, and visit the site of the explosion. Our investigator has met with several people injured in the explosion.
If you have information about the lease of the boiler, installation of the boiler, malfunction of the boiler, the explosion, or other information you believe to be important for our investigation of the Shearer's factory explosion, please feel free to contact us online or by phone.
Related Local News Stories on the Shearer Foods Natural Gas Explosion in Hermiston Oregon:
Perhaps the East Oregonian said it best in their headline: "Firefighters in Hermiston quell blaze of the decade: 'It felt like a hurricane or a tornado came throughout the whole warehouse'"