Two years after Jamie Hyatt, 34, of Wood Lake, died after rescuing his friend David Syring, 34, from a tanker at the Granite Falls location of Syring Feed Lots, Hyatt’s parents reached a confidential settlement in their civil lawsuit.
The settlement was reached just before the scheduled trial date for the wrongful death suit was filed with the Yellow Medicine County district Court in Granite Falls.
On January 7, Syring became unresponsive after entering a tanker in order to clean it out. The tanker was used to transport distiller’s syrup and according to the lawsuit, was nearly empty at the time of the incident.
The tanker was hauled every two weeks to Bushmill Ethanol in Atwater to fill up with distiller’s syrup. The tanker was then left at the Syring Feed Lot until it was empty, the lawsuit says.
Hyatt was employed as an independent contractor for Syring Feed Lots and had already finished his work that day when he entered the tanker to try and rescue Syring. At that time, both men lost consciousness. Emergency responders were forced to cut open the tanker to retrieve the workers.
Syring and Hyatt were transported to the Granite Falls Hospital. According to law enforcement reports, Syring was treated and released the following morning.
Initially, Hyatt was to be airlifted to the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, but because of poor weather conditions, had to be transported to Marshall for the airlift. According to court documents, after going into cardiac arrest twice, he was pronounced dead roughly three hours and 45 minutes after first entering the tanker.
Robert and Geraldine Hyatt filed the civil lawsuit against the owners of Syring Feed Lots, David and Paul Syring, alleging negligence. The lawsuit also alleged that Bushmills Ethanol shared liability for not providing instructions for the proper use of its products. The lawsuit also alleges that Bushmills did not warn operators about potential dangers.
Earlier this year, District Judge Dwayne Knutsen rejected motions by Bushmills to have the claims against their company dismissed. According to the plaintiff's lawsuit, the syrup produced carbon dioxide, which created the low oxygen environment inside the tanker that killed Hyatt. The company argued that the plaintiffs did not provide enough evidence showing that the distiller’s syrup resulted in Hyatt’s death.
Judge Knutsen disagreed, writing that “the lack of oxygen in the tanker must have been caused by something. It is reasonable to infer that a substance known to produce carbon dioxide produced at least some carbon dioxide which displaced the oxygen in the tanker.” No specific details of the confidential settlement were available to the public.