After explosion at grain elevator in Atchison, Kan., four families allege deaths were wrongful.

The Kansas City Star

By MIKE McGRAW and DAWN BORMANN The Kansas City Star
Updated: 2012-08-29T07:05:56Z

Families of four of the six workers killed last year in a grain-dust explosion in Atchison, Kan., have filed wrongful-death suits in Jackson County Circuit Court.
The lawsuits come a month after Bartlett Grain Co. LP announced plans to create a memorial in Atchison for the six men. That plan, in turn, has drawn strong criticism from one victim’s family, who called the idea a public relations ploy.“As an alternative to Bartlett spending monies to erect a memorial, it would be our recommendation that Bartlett invest in an extensive safety program designed to prevent another tragedy,” wrote Zoe and Kevin Bock in a response to the plan. They are the mother and stepfather of Chad Roberts, 20, who died in the explosion.The lawsuits, filed on Monday, name Bob Knief, a Bartlett senior vice president at the time, and other Bartlett employees as defendants.The cases were brought on behalf of Roberts, Ryan Federinko, 21, Curtis Field, 21, and John Burke, 24. They were all killed in the explosion on Oct. 29, 2011. Two other workers killed in the explosion — grain inspectors Travis Keil, 34, and Darrek Klahr, 43 — were not named.Knief and other unnamed Bartlett employees “issued directives that displayed a knowing or voluntary disregard” for the safety and health of the workers who were killed, the suits allege.The allegations are similar to charges made in April by federal safety officials, who accused Bartlett of willfully ignoring workplace rules before the explosion. They also proposed $ 406,000 in [...]