Second county fair worker settles gas explosion lawsuit

By Joe Beck

Attorneys settled a lawsuit Wednesday that was filed by a woman after she suffered severe burns in a propane gas tank explosion at the Shenandoah County Fair in 2010.

The woman, Manda C. Rudolph, sought $2.3 million, according to her attorney, Edward Allen of Fredericksburg. The suit listed Southern States Winchester Cooperative of Stephens City, the Shenandoah County Fair Association and Jimmy Cook, an employee of Southern States, as defendants.

The suit cited negligence as the reason for seeking damages.

The settlement came a day before the case was scheduled for a jury trial in Shenandoah County Circuit Court.

“I can say that my client, Ms. Rudolph, is pleased the parties were able to resolve their differences in the resolution of this case,” Allen said.

Defense attorneys Eric D. Andrew of Roanoke and John W. Zunka of Charlottesville did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Rudolph is the second of two plaintiffs to settle lawsuits against Southern States and the fair association. Charles Bugarski settled a suit last year after initially seeking $2 million for injuries he suffered.

Rudolph and Bugarski were both badly burned when a propane gas cylinder near cooking equipment in their food stand exploded.

Bugarski’s attorney, Douglas K.W. Landau of Herndon, said his client suffered burns over 30 to 40 percent of his body and was permanently scarred on the affected parts. Rudolph also was burned in the explosion and required skin grafts on 80 percent of her lower legs.

Bugarski and Rudolph were hospitalized for several weeks at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville after the accident.

Allen said Rudolph has since returned to work, “but I wouldn’t describe it as a full recovery. She has scarring and ongoing pain.”

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com