Wednesday, October 4, 2023

More lawsuits filed for those affected by Foundation Food Group nitrogen leak

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By Nick Watson

The Times

GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Four more lawsuits have been filed on behalf of the workers killed and injured following the Jan. 28 Foundation Food Group nitrogen leak in Gainesville, Ga., according to court documents.

The four suits were filed Thursday, Feb. 18, in Gwinnett County State Court.

Three of the wrongful death lawsuits filed Thursday were for: Veronica Vellez, the wife of Victor Vellez, 38; Yedith Alejandra Gauna, the wife of Edgar Uriel Vera-Garcia, 28; and Maria Piedad Cabrera Galicia, the mother of Jose de Jesus Elias Cabrera, 45.

All three men were among the six workers killed following the Jan. 28 liquid nitrogen leak at the Gainesville poultry processing plant.

The final lawsuit filed Thursday concerns 21 people seeking damages for personal injuries. The Times has reached out to the attorneys on the case to learn more about these plaintiffs.

Attorneys Kenneth Brosnahan and Claudio Caycho-Acosta did not return calls for comment Tuesday, Feb. 23.

Two lawsuits were previously filed in Gwinnett County State Court for Colleen Murphy, the wife of Corey Murphy, and Michael Smith, the administrator of Saulo Suarez-Bernal’s estate.

Murphy, 35, of Clermont, Ga., was a production superintendent at the plant who had worked there for roughly two years, according to the family’s attorneys.

He and Suarez-Bernal, 40, of Gainesville, were also killed following the leak.

All of the lawsuits were filed against Messer Gas LLC, various other Messer entities and a Braselton, Ga., man who reportedly attempted to service the liquid nitrogen system days before the deadly leak. The lawsuits were filed in Gwinnett County because the employee lives in Gwinnett County, and Messer North America has a registered agent in Gwinnett as well.

The Times reached out to Messer for comment, and a spokeswoman expressed condolences for the people affected.

“We are aware of wrongful death lawsuits that have been filed against Messer,” Messer North America’s head of external communications Amy Ficon wrote in an email. “As a company that values safety and reliability for our customers and our communities, we take these allegations seriously. As investigations are still ongoing, the facts are not fully known, and Messer will not speculate on the cause of the incident.”

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