A 14-year-old girl was electrocuted in July while removing tassels from corn in a field located on a farm in Illinois. The decedent, along with other teenagers, were hired by Monsanto. Brian Kendall, the father of Hannah Kendall, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against St. Louis-based Monsanto Corp., alleging that his daughter’s death could have been prevented. Hannah and Jade Garza, both 14 years old, were killed when they came into contact with a field irrigator while working on the farm located near Tampico.
An investigation of the death indicates there was an appreciated, understood, electrical problem with connections to the irrigation system. But nothing was done to correct the hazard created. According to one of the owners of the field, lightning struck the irrigation system. About 72 people were de-tasseling corn for Monsanto at the time. In addition to the two deaths, two other teenagers also were seriously injured and six other workers were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
The lawsuit involving Hannah’s death alleges that Monsanto knew about problems with the field’s irrigation equipment and failed to fix them. The owner of the property and her husband had given instructions that the electricity should be shut off to that system, but it was never done. OSHA is investigating the incident. In a statement, Monsanto denied the Kendall family’s claims and said crews wouldn’t have been allowed to work in the cornfield if the company had known there was an electrical hazard.
In addition to Monsanto, ConEd, which runs the electric meter hit by lightning, and the owners of the farm were also named as Defendants in the suit. As some of our readers may know, seed companies, such as Monsanto, hire people to detassle corn so it produces pure stands of hybrid seed. To produce cross-bred hybrids, the companies remove tassels from “female” rows of corn. Interplanted “male” rows then pollinate the “female” plants to produce a hybrid. Many of the workers used by Monsanto and others are high school and college students. Todd Smith, a lawyer, with Power, Rogers, & Smith, a firm located in Chicago, represents the Kendall family in the lawsuit.
Source: Insurance Journal
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