$5 Million Settlement in South Carolina Industrial Equipment Explosion Case

Saltz, Mongeluzzi & Bendesky attorneys Larry Bendesky, Robert Zimmerman, and Scott Fellmeth secured a $5 million settlement in South Carolina on behalf of a thrift-store worker who suffered serious burn injuries.

On the morning of the accident, the injured worker went to open a metal shipping container used to store a piece of industrial equipment. He intended to use the product to move and gather donations that had been dropped off at the store. The worker started the machine and was instantly engulfed in flames due to a leaking fuel system in the product.  The injured worker’s most serious burn injuries were to his torso and arms.

The injured worker and his wife filed a product liability and negligence lawsuit against the manufacturer and seller of the industrial product, the manufacturer of the fuel system, and the company that maintained the product for the thrift-store. The component that failed within the fuel system housed a fuel filter. The fuel filter component was designed with a metal casing that could be unscrewed to replace the filter and then screwed back together. Following the accident, the screws on the metal casing were under-torqued (loose) which caused the leak. SMB argued the maintenance company failed to properly maintain the machine. SMB also argued the fuel system component was defective because the component (the metal casing and filter) should have been designed to be fully replaced, when needed, rather than being designed so that the metal casing would be opened, the filter would be replaced, and the metal casing would be re-used and screwed back together, which can, and did, cause a fuel leak.

Due to the catastrophic nature of his injuries, the injured worker was hospitalized in a burn trauma center and underwent multiple surgeries. His strength and resiliency allowed him to make a meaningful recovery from his injuries and continue his education. He is on track to pursue a graduate level degree with the goal of becoming a college professor.

The defendants denied liability.  They claimed that 1) the thrift-store should not have been storing the product in an enclosed container, in violation of the operator’s manual, 2) the thrift-store was on notice that there was a leak in the fuel system prior to the accident, and 3) the product should have been removed from use until it was repaired.

After nearly 20 depositions were conducted and Plaintiff’s expert reports were submitted, the parties reached a settlement in June 2022.

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