Attorneys Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman have filed a lawsuit against Swagelok Company, an Ohio parts manufacturing firm, on behalf of Eemou See and Sing See, her husband. Ms. See was severely burned in an explosion at the McNeilus Truck and Manufacturing plant located at 524 County Road 34 East, Dodge Center, Minnesota. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota (case number 0:17-cv-05237). Papers filed with the court include a Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial.
The lawsuit alleges that Eemou See was severely burned as a result of an explosion caused by the failure of a Swagelok hose and fitting assembly, a component part of a compressed natural gas (CNG) system of a truck being manufactured at the McNeilus plant. The failure of the hose and fitting resulted in the escape of natural gas, which ignited, according to the suit.
“Fugitive gas that caused the explosion was the result of a defective and unreasonably dangerous hose assembly in the CNG system of a truck to which the hose assembly was attached.”Allegation in lawsuit Filed November 28, 2017
The Explosion at McNeilus Truck and Manufacturing Plant
The following is information alleged in the Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial.
On January 11, 2017, Ms. See was working at the McNeilus Truck and Manufacturing, Inc. (“McNeilus”) production plant located at 524 County Road 34 East, Dodge Center, Minnesota. McNeilus is in the business of manufacturing and assembling CNG-powered refuse trucks. Her duties as a production worker at McNeilus included masking and taping trucks in preparation for painting.
That morning, Ms. See heard a popping noise and walked over to an interior door to determine the cause. “As she approached the paint booth door and looked through the window, she saw something flapping around near the top of the truck and immediately sensed that something was wrong. She turned away from the door and started to run, but a massive explosion knocked her to the ground and engulfed her in a fireball, which spread from her back to the front of her body, burning her flesh. Ms. See’s entire upper torso was on fire and she remained aflame for several agonizing minutes. By the time the flames were extinguished, Ms. See’s skin was peeling from her body” (Complaint filed in this case).
The blast from the explosion injured six employees, including Ms. See. According to the state Fire Marshal’s report (as quoted in the Complaint):
“The explosion disrupted approximately 6 large overhead doors, blew out part of the side wall of the baking room, burned or blew around foam type filters on various paint booth air exchange systems, scorched and burned random areas of the ceiling and miscellaneous tools and content nearby, dislodged part of the sprinkler system, set off 9 sprinkler heads, and also was responsible for the injuries to six employees.”
The burn injuries Ms. See sustained in the explosion cover nearly half of her total body surface. She was hospitalized for two months at Regions Hospital in St. Paul and has undergone 13 surgeries. She suffered the amputation of all of the fingers on her left hand, and she has massive disfigurement involving her extremities, face and torso.
Lawsuit Alleges Explosion Caused by Failed Swagelok Hose-Fitting Assembly
The lawsuit alleges a refuse truck being assembled by McNeilus was involved in the January 11, 2017 explosion. The power system for this truck was a compressed natural gas (CNG) system. Compressed natural gas is stored in pressurized cylinders atop the vehicle. The CNG fuel system transfers the high-pressure natural gas from the fuel tanks to the engine. One component of this CNG system is hoses and fittings, which are attached to the hoses. These hoses and fittings on the subject truck were designed and manufactured by Swagelok Company, the defendant in this lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges Swagelok failed to ensure that there was a properly-seated hose-fitting connection in the hose assembly, which caused the sudden, catastrophic separation of the hose from the fitting on January 11, 2017, resulting in the release of highly pressurized gas into the confined space where the subject refuse truck was located. This gas then ignited, causing the explosion that severely injured Ms. See, according to the Complaint.
The Complaint filed in the lawsuit states: “As indicated in the report from the Dodge County Sheriff’s office regarding the January 11, 2017 explosion, it was noted that ‘one particular hose has come unfastened from the CNG system’ on the subject refuse truck, with the report further describing that ‘the hose appears to have pulled out of the factory crimped connection.’ . . . Technical analysis confirmed the lack of engagement of the hose assembly due to Defendant Swagelok’s failure to fully engage and seat the hose within the fitting prior to compression…. This failure mode was so evident that it was noted by the state fire marshal at the time of the initial investigation, long before consulting experts confirmed it: ‘I do not know anything about the CNG system at this time, but it appears that the hose has become undone and may have released some of the natural gas product into the room’ (MN State Fire Marshal).”
“Defendant Swagelok failed to properly design, manufacture, test and inspect the hose assembly, which caused the hose to separate from its fitting and allowed gas to escape and, as a result, is strictly liable for all harms and losses suffered by our clients.”Allegation in Lawsuit Filed November 28, 2017
Contact Attorneys Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman
To contact attorneys Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman, call 612-338-0202 or use our online form. Fred and Eric have won a number of multimillion-dollar settlements for their clients.