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Lawsuit filed on behalf of 20 victims who reportedly suffered steam burns from Detroit manholes

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Posted at 10:38 AM, Sep 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-24 18:17:01-04

(WXYZ) — A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of 20 victims who have reportedly suffered burns to their legs and feet from steam emitting from manhole covers in Detroit.

PHOTOS: Burn victims show their injuries (warning: photos may contain graphic images)

The lawsuit names Detroit Thermal, LLC; Detroit Renewable Energy, LLC and Project Mist HoldCo, LLC as defendants.

According to the complaint, the defendants negligently failed to control the steam that was emitted from boiling hot steam pipes beneath the street and failed to warn pedestrians and others about the dangerous conditions that ultimately led to victims sustaining burns to their feet, ankles and legs.

"The arguments in our clients' case are clear: these injuries were preventable," said trial attorney Nicolas A. Vesprini of Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. in a press release. "It is now our goal with this lawsuit to instigate operational changes so that pedestrians can safely walk the streets and sidewalks without suffering burn injuries in Detroit."

According to the lawsuit, multiple victims suffered injuries from manhole covers located near Cobo Hall, Ford Field and Comerica Park.

"We believe the defendants were culpable in contributing to the 20 victims who sustained burn injuries," said Vesprini. "We're seeking to prevent injuries like this in the future."

We have not received formal notification of a lawsuit and cannot comment on pending litigation.

Health and safety are top priorities for Detroit Thermal. Under the direction of new ownership and local leadership, we are working every day to deliver safer, more efficient service for our customers and community. The closing of Detroit Renewable Power in March freed up hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest in improving and modernizing our natural gas facility and underground steam pipes. We strive more than anything to be a good neighbor. Our team constantly monitors the system to identify and perform any necessary maintenance.

If you see any visible plumes, please contact Detroit Thermal by calling (313) 972-5700.
Detroit Thermal