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September 15, 2009 - Triumph Close to Settlement with Insurers

Triumph Foods and three insurance companies could complete a settlement between them within the next two weeks, attorneys told Buchanan County Circuit Judge Randall Jackson on Monday morning.

The lawsuit stemmed from Triumph's $12.25 million settlement following an accidental explosion in 2005 that killed or injured 20 workers during the pork plant's construction. Triumph and the three insurance companies named in the suit had a trial setting last Wednesday but didn't show up.

During Monday's subsequent status hearing, Triumph's local counsel Mark Stingley and attorneys from Hartford Casualty Insurance Co., and St. Paul Surplus Lines Insurance Co., told Mr. Jackson documents to complete the settlement were circulating and they hoped to have it finalized in 10 days.

Mr. Jackson gave the sides 45 days to dismiss the lawsuit. If it isn't settled by then, he advised those involved to be prepared to go to trial. The parties have been working on a settlement since a July mediation.

"The settlement will take care of 90 percent of the insurance cases," Mr. Stingley estimated.

He wouldn't reveal the proposed terms of the settlement.

Triumph agreed to pay $1.25 million of the original settlement. Triumph's lawsuit claims Hartford refused to pay Triumph's portion of the settlement. Triumph says it paid $500,000 to settle the case after Hartford refused to participate in settlement talks.

The suit also names Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., which did not have a representative at Monday's hearing, as refusing to pay any amount. The suit says St. Paul paid $750,000 but wouldn't fully cover its policy and reimburse Triumph for the $500,000.

In another case, Triumph will go before a jury on Nov. 2 in its lawsuit against general contractor Epstein and Sons, Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, D&D Masonry, Employers Mutual Casualty, Midland Steel, Midwestern Indemnity, gas utility Missouri Gas Energy and the Zurich American Insurance.

All those entities were contractors, subcontractors or insurers of contractors during the construction of the pork plant. Triumph's lawsuit claims those companies were required to defend and compensate Triumph for its losses.

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