"It wasn’t just a bag of flour," David Sanchez says about the milled grain that flowed out of a silo and hit his client Jeffrey Young when the truck driver was picking up a delivery in 2008 from a ConAgra Foods mill.

Young sued, a jury found in his favor on Dec. 11, 2012, and a judge signed a final judgment Feb. 7. Twelve days later, Sanchez, a partner in Fort Worth’s Morrison & Sanchez who represents Young on a contingency basis, received a check for his client for about $588,000.

In a petition filed Feb. 5, 2010, in Jeffrey Young v. ConAgra Foods, Inc., d.b.a. ConAgra Foods Flour Mill, Young alleged that, when picking up the delivery at the Saginaw mill, he had asked if a tube connected to a flour silo was operable. A ConAgra employee told him no, Young alleged. When Young proceeded with another task atop his truck’s trailer, a load of flour came down the tube and hit Young, injuring him. He alleged those injuries led to his loss of employment. In his petition, Young brought a general negligence cause of action and sought unquantified damages.

In an amended answer filed Feb. 7, 2012, ConAgra denied the allegations, arguing that Young bore responsibility for his own injuries.

John Kenefick, a shareholder in Dallas’ MacDonald Devin who represents ConAgra, says Young had verifiable injuries but it was not clear that they required any surgery or when he had gotten them.

After a five-day trial and one day of deliberations, the jury found ConAgra 80 percent responsible for the occurrence that caused Young’s injuries and Young and his employer, which was not a defendant, each 10 percent responsible. The jury assessed Young’s total damages at $629,000.

In a Feb. 7 final judgment, 96th District Judge R.H. Wallace Jr., ordered ConAgra to pay Young $588,000, plus any post-judgment interest that might accrue.

Sanchez says going through a long list of potential witnesses led him to one ConAgra employee willing to testify about the mechanism of the silo and how it would lead to confusion about whether it was operable. The same witness also testified, Sanchez says, about how managers at the mill insisted employees work around it.

"I think his exact words were, ‘We do as we are told,’ " Sanchez says. That was a key point, a jury member told Sanchez after the trial.

During settlement negotiations, Kenefick says, his client had offered close to the amount Young won with the judgment. The defense lawyer says he doesn’t believe Young won any advantages by trying the case.

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