A group of wrongful death, personal injury and property damage lawsuits filed over a fatal boiler explosion two years ago in St. Louis have been settled, but concerns persist in the area about the risk of similar incidents that may result from poor maintenance and inadequate inspections.
The boiler explosion occurred in April 2017, at the Loy-Lange plant in St. Louis. The blast fired the one-ton boiler through the facility’s roof, sending it smashing down into a laundry business, killing four and injuring three others.
Those killed included Kenneth Trentham, who died in the plant, and Clifford Lee, Christopher Watkins and Tonya Gonzalez-Suarez, who were killed when the boiler crashed into Faultless Healthcare Linen nearby. Those at the linen company were starting their first day on the job.
The incident resulted in four wrongful death lawsuits, three personal injury lawsuits and two property damage claims against Kickham Boiler and Engineering, Chicago Boiler Company, Aquacomp Water Treatment Services, Loy-Lange, and Arise, Incorporated.
Plaintiffs alleged that the manufacturers failed to include corrosion allowance on the pressure vessel, and that owners failed to do proper water chemistry treatment, sediment removal and inspections. Another company also failed to repair the boiler sufficiently and remove corroded materials from inside several years earlier.
According to a local media report by KSDK.com, the boiler explosion settlement resolves all of the outstanding cases, and resulted in the manufacturers paying $21 million, inspection consultants Arise Incorporated paying $17.5 million, and Loy Lange paying $4 million. The company that was supposed to repair the boiler will pay $728,000. The agreement comes out of mediation meetings in June.
Despite settlement of the lawsuit, the case has still left concerns in the St. Louis area after local media produced stories, sometimes involving anonymous inspectors, who say the city is failing at doing proper boiler inspections and maintenance, and that such incidents were inevitable.