Chocolate Factory Explosion in Pennsylvania

March 29, 2023

Around 5 p.m. on March 24th, 2023, an enormous explosion occurred at a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania. This deadly incident happened about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia at an R.M. Palmer Company factory best known for manufacturing chocolate Easter bunnies. 

According to authorities, the blast in the town of West Reading caused fatal injuries to at least seven individuals. Emergency workers responded over the following weekend. The incident was especially tragic as it happened only two weeks before the Easter holiday.

The Cause of the Explosion and Fatalities

As of Saturday, March 25th, the cause of the blast was under investigation by local authorities. Some believed the explosion was caused by an unknown gas leak in or near the factory. Video of the aftermath of the explosion was posted to social media sites. 

Response teams used large machinery to remove heavy debris. They also relied on thermal imaging equipment and sniffer dogs to search for survivors. The morning after the incident, responders discovered an employee trapped in the rubble.  

West Reading police chief Wayne Holben was initially hopeful that more survivors would be found. Sadly, more fatally wounded workers were discovered as the weekend wore on. 

The mayor of West Reading, Samantha Kaag, mourned the loss of the individuals in public statements following the incident. She also praised the responders for helping bring closure to the decedents’ families.

If you lost someone you love in the West Reading chocolate factory explosion, it is important to speak with a legal professional. A skilled explosion injury attorney can review the facts of your situation and help you seek justice.  

Fortunately, the compassionate attorneys at McEldrew Purtell are here to help. Our experienced staff will gladly schedule a no-cost consultation for you. 

Victims with Non-Fatal Injuries

Many of those present for the explosion suffered non-fatal injuries. Some of the injured were admitted to nearby Reading hospital. Ten patients were admitted and subsequently transferred to other medical care facilities.  

Two other patients were in fair and good condition, respectively. Everyone else affected by the chocolate factory explosion was discharged.  

Those who sustained injuries as a result of the explosion may be owed financial compensation. Knowledgeable explosion injury attorneys can help you discover your legal options and rights. 

R.M. Palmer Company

The owner of the West Reading chocolate factory, R.M. Palmer Company, has manufactured chocolate candies since its founding in 1948. Some of the company’s most popular product lines include:

Chocolate Bunnies

R.M. Palmer Company is known for its chocolate Easter bunnies. These candies are available in various sizes and flavors, such as:  

  • Milk chocolate
  • White chocolate
  • Dark chocolate 

The manufacturing of these Easter-based candies makes the timing of the recent event even more tragic.

Chocolate Coins

R.M. Palmer also produces chocolate coins wrapped in foil in different designs for different occasions.

Chocolate Figures

The confectionery company also manufactures hollow chocolate figures in different shapes, including Santa, snowmen, and Easter eggs.

Other Miscellaneous Candies

The company produces a range of candy products. These include:  

  • Gummy bears
  • Jelly beans
  • Hard candies
  • Chocolate bars — including milk, white, and dark chocolate
  • Chocolate novelty items such as dinosaurs and footballs 

R.M. Palmer Company manufactures a wide range of chocolate and candy products. These items are typically marketed for special occasions and celebrations throughout the year. 

While the products offered are fun and nostalgic, the production processes can result in tragedy. When this happens, victims deserve workplace explosion injury attorneys who will fight for them.

The Dangers of Chocolate Factory Explosions

There have been many explosions at confectionary factories in U.S. history, dating back more than two centuries. 

Some facilities rely on combustible starch dust. This ingredient is useful for shaping bonbon centers and other types of candy. When this starch ignites, explosions become highly likely. 

Possible Damages for Explosion Victims

Victims of factory explosions can pursue financial compensation for the losses they incurred. This is especially true if the cause of their injuries was another party’s negligence. 

The legal term for financial payments for losses is “damages.” Special and general damages are the two most common categories of compensatory payments.

What Are Special Damages?

This type of financial compensation makes up for the monetary costs that the victim experienced as a result of the explosion. Typical examples of these losses include: 

  • Past and current medical bills
  • Expected costs for ongoing medical care
  • Physical therapy
  • Medical-related travel
  • Property damage associated with the blast
  • Lost income and foregone wages from missed work
  • Decreased ability to earn income long-term
  • Costs of vocational retraining 

A seasoned Pennsylvania injury lawyer will use the financial documents related to your case to calculate special damages. You should not forfeit any of the compensation to which you are rightfully entitled. The tort attorneys at McEldrew Purtell will use receipts, bills, invoices, and other documents to calculate the money you are due.

What Are General Damages?

Many of the harms that explosion victims experience do not come with a price tag. For instance, what is the price of being unable to sit or walk comfortably? How much is it worth to have permanent burn scars? 

These questions are incredibly difficult to answer. General damages are meant to compensate for the losses that are challenging to quantify. Common examples of general damages include repayment for: 

  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress and turmoil
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Disability or functional impairment
  • Embarrassment 

When an explosion injury is fatal, the victim’s estate holder can pursue compensation on their behalf. This is known as a “wrongful death” claim and works similarly to other tort cases. Typical damages in these claims include: 

  • Funerary expenses and burial costs
  • End-of-life care costs
  • The victim’s pain and suffering
  • The family’s pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium or relationship
  • Loss of parental guidance 

If you or someone you love was negatively impacted by the R.M. Palmer Company factory explosion in West Reading, PA, do not hesitate. Contact the caring legal team at McEldrew Purtell for premier legal representation.