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New Hampshire brewery worker killed by exploding beer keg

Sometimes when a person is injured or killed at work in New Hampshire, it can be hard to determine who is actually at fault. At any job, people handle a variety of materials and work in different environments, some of which may be defective or unsafe. When someone dies or becomes injured on the job, more than one party can sometimes be held responsible.

In 2012, a worker at the Redhook Ale Brewery in Portsmouth was fatally injured while pressurizing a keg with air to clean it, and it exploded. According to the then-Deputy Fire Chief, he was found with head and chest injuries, in a state of cardiac arrest. He died an hour after being rushed to the hospital.

The man's sister has filed federal wrongful death lawsuits against three separate entities. One was against the plastic keg company. She claimed that the manufacturer failed to warn users of the dangers of applying pressures to the keg. A post-accident inspection also revealed a defective disc in the kegs that can burst under pressure.

She is also claiming the manufacturer of this vulnerable component in the kegs is partly culpable as well for her brother's death. The third entity is the keg delivery company. She claims that prior to the week of her brother's death, the company switched to these unfamiliar, less pressure-tolerant kegs with the faulty parts.

Her lawsuit was based on her brother's projected earnings over his working life expectancy of 48 years, which alone were worth at least $1.5 million. For some reason, the brewery was not among the defendants in this case. It is not clear if she is filing for a workers' compensation death benefit claim on his behalf from his former employer, to which his survivors may be separately entitled.

To further complicate matters, the man's estranged girlfriend had recently discovered she was pregnant, and later DNA tests proved his paternity. The man died before learning of his unborn child, which may add additional damage claims to the case.

When litigating a work-related accident, people may benefit from consultations with attorneys in more than one practice area to determine the best course of action. Many work-related injuries and deaths may merit workers' compensation benefits. Others may be premises or product liability issues. Sometimes multiple parties may be accountable, in which case multiple lawsuits may be filed.

Source: Seacoast Online, "Suit over keg death moves to federal court" Elizabeth Dinan, Apr. 06, 2014

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