SMITHFIELD, NC – A jury awarded seven former ConAgra employees $14 million in compensatory damages after a deadly explosion at a ConAgra Foods Garner, NC, plant in June 2009, according to media reports.

The company blamed for the explosion was Jacobs Engineering. The company was installing a water heater at the 500,000-sq.-ft. Slim Jim meat snacks plant when the explosion occurred. A natural gas line was being purged at the time. The blast ripped the building’s roof off its supports in certain areas causing the roof in those areas to collapse. Four people died in the explosion. The seven plaintiffs were injured as a result of the explosion.

The jury will return in June to consider punitive damages in the case.