BURLINGTON — A jury is set to hear evidence in January in a lawsuit brought by Nestlé USA Inc. against a contractor the company accuses of causing an explosion that damaged the chocolate factory.
The lawsuit, filed in Racine County Circuit Court, says the August 2019 explosion caused extensive damage to the Burlington plant and cost at least $2.6 million to repair.
The defendants are named Advanced Boiler Control Services Inc. and its employee, John Fox, who was working on a boiler inside the plant when the incident occurred.
Court records indicate that the defendants are contesting the lawsuit, which alleges negligence and breach of contract.
A jury trial is scheduled for Jan. 17 at the Racine County Courthouse.
Officials at Advanced Boiler’s Headquarter in Crown Point, Indiana, could not be reached for comment.
Fox, who lives in Kenosha, also could not be reached. He is not related to John Fox, a former Kenosha City Council member.
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Paul Benson, an attorney representing Nestlé in the lawsuit, declined to comment.
According to the lawsuit, the explosion occurred on August 2, 2019, while Fox was performing maintenance on a boiler inside the Nestlé chocolate factory at 637 S. Pine St.
The lawsuit alleges the maintenance worker allowed natural gas to build up and then burn while trying to replace a switch described as a “critical safety interlock” on the boiler.
The combination does not indicate that anyone was injured, but it does indicate that the explosion caused damage to the boiler and other equipment near the plant.
“The explosion caused extensive damage,” the suit reads.
Nestlé alleges that Advanced Boiler was negligent in hiring, training and supervising Fox to perform the maintenance work. Two insurance companies are also cited as co-defendants.
The complaint was filed in March 2021.
According to the lawsuit, Advanced Boiler received $17,490 for maintenance work on the boiler.
In addition to the $2.6 million in repair costs, Nestlé is asking a jury to award other unspecified costs and punitive damages.
Court records indicate that Circuit Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz is planning a four-day trial in January to hear testimony and arguments.
Built in the 1960s, the Burlington factory employs around 400 people to produce Nestlé chocolate candies. The plant is currently under renovation to begin production of refrigerated cookie dough.