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$6.5 Million for Injured Pipefitters in Calumet Water Reclamation District Plant Explosion

On August 30, 2018, two local 597 pipefitters were seriously injured while working at the Calumet Water Reclamation District Plant operated by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD). The pipefitters were direct employees of Amalgamated Services and were contracted to work on the site by the defendant, Independent Mechanical, under the auspices of the MWRD.

During work to reactivate a water treatment building, approximately the size of a football field, which had been inactive for approximately four years, it was necessary to remove a floor hatch. When the hatch could not be removed, an employee of the MWRD, as had been anticipated might be required, used an acetylene torch in an attempt to heat and/or cut off its bolts.

In violation of plant policy, neither the worker nor his MWRD supervisor properly filled out or followed a long-standing burn permit procedure. That procedure would have required an inspection and gas meter testing of the area beneath the hatch, which was occupied by several large wastewater treatment settling tanks.

The confined space permitted the accumulation of a vast amount of methane gas. When the worker applied the torch, it ignited the very explosive methane gas lifting the building, its walls and roof off of its foundation and causing it to collapse. The plaintiffs were injured and/or trapped under the debris suffering serious multiple injuries.

Morici, Longo & Associates and managing partner, James J. Morici, Jr., engaged in an extensive gathering of information employing multiple experts and obtained court orders for the preservation of the explosion site. Reports of the Chicago Police Department, the Chicago Fire Department and the State Fire Marshall were obtained as were confidential consultant reports obtained by the MWRD from a Northbrook engineering consulting firm. Simultaneous to that work was a gathering of vast amounts of medical information concerning our injured clients.

Due to our aggressive work from the onset of the litigation, a personal injury lawsuit was filed within 30 days of the occurrence. We were able to force the defendants into engaging in settlement discussions even though a trial in the matter would still have been several years away.

If you, your friends, family, coworkers or neighbors have been seriously injured as a result of the negligence of others, please call us at (312) 779-0366 or complete our online contact form today.